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Tent cities causing growing concerns for some Edmontonians

WATCH ABOVE: In central Edmonton, homeless camps are causing concerns about safety for some people who live near them. Sarah Komadina reports.

Concerns are growing among some Edmontonians as homeless camps have been set up in inner-city neighbourhoods and don’t seem to be going anywhere.

Sean Lamb is a resident and landlord in the McCauley neighbourhood. He said a tent city in his back alley has resulted in safety concerns, and two tenants are moving out because of it.

“Your home is supposed to be your zen, it’s where you go to relax, and lately we’re staying up worried and people don’t feel safe, and that is not home,” Lamb said.

It’s also been hard to fill the homes with new renters, he said.

“[People] like to drive by the neighbourhood before they usually go see a prospective unit, and most of them just go in and cancel the interview, or some come in and say, ‘You know what, we are going to pass because there are just too many tents.’
“They don’t feel safe. Some people have children [and] they’re not going to want to move in when there’s 30 tents within 50 feet [of the house].
“They’ve cut holes in the LRT fences. There’s been a lot of thefts [and] property damage that has been going on in the last few months. We tried reaching out to the city in the approachable channels and it just doesn’t seem to be a lot happening.”

READ MORE: Number of people sleeping on Edmonton streets falls: Homeward Trust report

The City of Edmonton said in a statement that they are working with partner agencies to assist people sleeping rough in these areas.

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“An encampment response team, headed by Homeward Trust, has been meeting weekly since Sept. 25 to co-ordinate efforts to transition these individuals into housing,” the statement reads.

The Edmonton Police Service and City of Edmonton peace officers continue to monitor the areas to ensure the safety of vulnerable individuals and the community.

“Dates for camp cleanup are being determined,” the statement reads.

The city is pressing the federal and provincial governments to help fund 900 units of supportive housing.

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

“We recognize that organizations in Edmonton and around the province are doing important work to support Alberta’s most vulnerable people to address homelessness,” the city said. “We will continue to work with our partners to invest in critical programs and services.”

“Budget 2019 will carefully consider the supports and services Albertans rely on,” Kassandra Kitz, press secretary to the Minister of Community and Social Services, said in a statement. “Our government is committed to protecting vulnerable Albertans, while at the same time getting the province’s finances back on track in order to sustain our vital programs for future generations.”

READ MORE: Homeless camps set up in downtown Edmonton raise questions over safe spaces for less fortunate

 

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