June 19, 2013 3:01 pm
Updated: April 3, 2014 2:29 pm

Edmonton is a shining example of reducing homelessness: report

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Edmonton – A new report on the state of homelessness in Canada shows Edmonton is setting an example on how to reduce the problem. However, on a national level, the state of homelessness continues to be a problem that isn’t diminishing.

According to the study, 30,000 people are homeless in Canada on any given night, at least 200,000 people experience homelessness in any given year, and 50,000 people may be “hidden homeless,” which means, they could be “couch surfing.”

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“I think it’s a shocking report but not (a) surprising one,” says Julian Daly with Boyle Street Community Services. “Shocking in that so many people in a country as wealthy as ours remain homeless, but not surprising given the work we do here at Boyle Street. We see that everyday.”

Of particular concern for Daly is the number youth who make up the homeless population (20 per cent).

“We’ve seen here at Boyle Street a steady increase in the number of young people coming to our services who are homeless,” says Daly. “And some of them are really part of the hidden homeless because they’re not always counted.”

The numbers are more positive in Edmonton. The city has experienced a 42 per cent reduction in homelessness since 2008, which leads the country.  Edmonton introduced a ten year play to end homelessness in 2009.

The province of Alberta announced its ten-year plan to address homelessness in 2008. The report highlights the provincial government’s effort: “The Province of Alberta is a leader in developing an effective provincial response to homelessness, that includes program and service integration, prioritizing Housing First, and a planned, evidence-based response rooted in research.”

“I think our city and Mayor Mandel in particular, and our province, Ed Stelmach, Premier Stelmach, and Premier Redford have done a lot to (making) ending homelessness a high political priority,” says Daly.

There has been a 16 per cent reduction in homelessness and ten per cent reduction in emergency shelter use in Alberta since 2008.

Communities across Canada are now looking at Edmonton and Alberta as an example of how to battle the issue.

“I think we’ve shown leadership in that at a political level. We’ve also shown leadership in a local level too, in that we’ve seen a lot of collaboration from different organizations who all bring part of the solution to the table,” says Daly.

There are 2,100 homeless people in Edmonton, according to the city’s 2012 count.

The State of Homelessness in Canada

© 2013 Shaw Media

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