Edmonton homeless population count set for Wednesday, history shows need for space for winter shelters – Edmonton

This summer, Edmonton has seen a staggering number of homeless people and encampments across the city, and with the official count underway, there still doesn’t seem to be a solid plan for what will happen when the weather turns cold.

Homeward Trust is carrying out a point-in-time count of the homeless population from Wednesday night through Thursday to get a better idea of ​​how many people are living on city streets.

“This count is one of many data points we use to understand the extent of homelessness in Edmonton,” spokeswoman Catherine Bangel said in a statement Wednesday morning. « This is an important step taken by cities across the country to help the federal government understand how to address homelessness nationally. »

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Homeless count begins in Edmonton

Homeless count begins in Edmonton

The provincial government is responsible for funding emergency shelters and supports for the homeless population and works in partnership with the City of Edmonton and organizations including Homeward Trust and Hope Mission, which is one of the largest shelters from the city.

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« The Government of Alberta is giving Homeward Trust Edmonton more than $29 million to operate more than 400 supportive housing units, including new ones opening this year, » Alberta’s Minister of Community and Social Services said. ‘Alberta, Jason Luan, in a statement to Global News.

“We are also providing over $11 million to homeless shelters in Edmonton to operate over 620 emergency housing beds and over 300 short- and long-term support beds.”

Read more:

The number of homeless Edmontonians has doubled; city ​​facing lack of shelter this winter

Temporary emergency shelters were funded during the pandemic as the city saw a skyrocketing increase in its homeless population, but those sites are now closed. Yet with the extra beds there was a lack of space for those who needed it last winter.

According to data from Homeward Trust, 2,745 people were made homeless last month. Of that number, « about 1,200 are either homeless or in emergency shelters, » said Brent Wittmeier, spokesman for the city’s Affordable Housing Unit.

Last year, the city provided two emergency shelter spaces, which were funded by the provincial government and operated by local social service agencies – one in the Spectrum Building and one in Commonwealth Stadium. But new obstacles prevent these spaces from being used as shelters again this year.

Read more:

Edmonton shelters save vulnerable people from frostbite and extreme cold

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“At this time, the city does not anticipate that either of these buildings will be available for temporary shelters this year. There are some infrastructure issues with the Spectrum building, and Commonwealth Stadium is not available. available only for a limited time,” Wittmeier said.

According to Angie Staines, founder of 4B Harm Reduction Society – a mobile outreach group, there are never enough shelter beds to support the community.

Staines, alongside her team, roams the streets of downtown delivering harm reduction supplies to drug addicts. Last year she saw winter camps and people sleeping in doorways – the same as the summer scene. And people are still healing physical injuries from frostbite and other extreme weather-related injuries, she said.

Click to play video: “Mustard Seed opens new permanent homeless shelter in South Edmonton”

Mustard Seed Opens New Permanent Homeless Shelter in South Edmonton

Mustard Seed opens new permanent homeless shelter in South Edmonton – June 24, 2022

« These people are already at so much risk, » Staines said of the lack of a transparent winter plan for the community.

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The solution, Staines says, is to have more beds in shelters and to include a safe consumption site in the shelter for drug addicts so they don’t lose their beds. There also need to be more warming stations and toilets in the city for people who are on the streets, she said.

The city, Wittmeier said, works year-round with more than 25 homeless-serving organizations to coordinate services. And the city is expanding its collaborative efforts with the province and Homeward Trust to « anticipate this winter’s emergency shelter demand and to develop potential responses to current shelter capacity challenges. »

It just needs to happen before winter hits, Staines said.

“These people are going to be left behind, again. We can’t wait until December again.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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