Homeward Trust volunteers starting 2018 Edmonton Homeless Count

A homeless encampment in Edmonton's River Valley Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017.
A homeless encampment in Edmonton's River Valley Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017. Dean Twardzik, Global News

For the 13th time, a homeless count is being conducted in Edmonton.

Over a 24-hour period starting Wednesday, hundreds of volunteers with Homeward Trust will be conducting a count of the city’s homeless population.

“The Homeless Count provides vital data and helps inform our ongoing work,” Homeward Trust CEO Susan McGee said.

“There are many faces of homelessness in our city, and the count allows us to understand the people involved, and to better target our responses based on need.”

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READ MORE: A glimpse into Edmonton’s river valley homeless

Homeward Trust says the volunteers come from all walks of life, including people who have been homeless, police officers and elected officials. They work in pairs and survey people on the street, at shelters, drop-in centres and libraries.

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The last homeless count was conducted in 2016 when 1,752 were identified, which was a 24 per cent decrease from two years earlier and a 43 per cent decline from the highest count in 2008. The City of Edmonton’s Plan to End Homelessness was launched in 2009.

READ MORE: Homeward Trust says Edmonton homelessness drops 24% in 2 years

Homeward said 48 per cent of the identified homeless in 2016 were indigenous.

“That is a stark over-representation that must be addressed,” McGee said.

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“The count informs our ongoing efforts to end homelessness in Edmonton. We have housed and supported more than 7,000 people since 2009 through Housing First programs, and we will continue to work relentlessly to see our count reduced all the way to zero.”

READ MORE: Calls for more Edmonton social housing instead of $2M homeless camp removal

This year’s count is taking place April 11 and 12 to align with the second national coordinated homeless count, which involves more than 60 communities across Canada.

The result of this year’s Edmonton count will be released in the coming weeks.

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