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New stats show increase in Edmonton homeless camps

WATCH ABOVE: The City of Edmonton says about 1,900 homeless camps have been reported in the city since the beginning of the year, a jump from the 864 in the same period last year. Vinesh Pratap reports.

Just west of 95 Street along a pathway next to the LRT tunnel, more than a dozen tents are now in place.

“I’ve been on and off the streets for about five years,” explained Lisa G., a woman who lives in one of the tents.

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

Lisa doesn’t find the shelters safe, so she lives outside.

Recently, she says, the request came to move on.

“Mentally in my head right now, I don’t know what to do.”

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New figures from the City of Edmonton show the number of reported homeless camps has more than doubled compared to the same period last year.

The city indicates the increase in numbers is due in part to growing use of the new 311 app, repeat complaints and the late snow melt.

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“It is a crisis,” Councillor Scott McKeen said.

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The city continues to iron out plans to build more permanent supportive housing, spreading it across Edmonton.

READ MORE: Eventual solution to Edmonton’s homelessness issue will come through zoning: McKeen

But when it comes to the hard to house, there are challenges.

“I’m hoping that the Kenney government will recognize that it affects not just the vulnerable people who are living rough, it affects entire communities,” McKeen said.

Support agencies are providing assistance, working to get people to safer places.

The efforts, however, are limited without a path to housing.

“To actually find a place where people can go and call home,” explained Jared Tkachuk with Boyle Street Community Services.

“When we just move people along, they are just going to end up somewhere else.”

Watch below: What is it like to be homeless in Edmonton? Lisa G has been on and off the street for about five years and describes the struggles she faces every day.

What is it like to be homeless in Edmonton?
What is it like to be homeless in Edmonton?

Along the pathway, Lisa G packs her belongings as she prepares to find a new place to set up.

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She’s frustrated about the sheer helplessness she feels.

“This is the safest place I know where to go.”

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