Alberta Politics

planning to end poverty and homelessness in alberta.

Homeless Connect Edmonton 2012
Homeless Connect Edmonton at the Shaw Conference Centre (photo by Mack Male).

Last weekend Homeward Trust Edmonton and its community partners held their biannual Homeless Connect event at the Shaw Conference Centre. The event is a one-stop-shop of free essential services for Edmontonians experiencing homelessness and those at risk of becoming homeless. These services include everything from housing and employment information to addictions counselling and STI testing to haircuts and clean clothing. More than 1,000 Edmontonians are estimated to have attended the day long event.

Homeless Connect is organized by a committee of community organizations and is driven by hundreds of volunteers. This was my fourth time volunteering.

This morning, Mayor Stephen Mandel will be joining Homeless Commission chairperson Anne Smith to release the Year 3 Update to Edmonton’s Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness.

Premier Ed Stelmach
Former Premier Ed Stelmach

Rather than focusing on the traditional emergency shelter model, the plan relies heavily the principles of Housing First, which focus on providing stable housing for homeless individuals. According to Homeward Trust, close to 2,000 people have found housing through the Housing First support program since 2009 and over 80% successfully remain in housing.

The plan to end homelessness in Edmonton complements a larger provincial ten-year plan, which is a lasting legacy of Premier Ed Stelmach. Both plans focus on Housing First.

As a volunteer at Homeless Connect over the past two years, I have noticed that many of the guests accessing the services at the event are not homeless, but are working and living in poverty.

According to a report released by the Edmonton Social Planning Council in late 2011, the number of children living in poverty rose dramatically from 53,000 to 73,000 from 2008 and 2009. The average number of Albertans living in poverty is estimated to be around 400,000.

Alison Redford Alberta Election 2012 Conservative leader
Premier Alison Redford

During the recent election campaign, Premier Alison Redford announced the creation of a ten-year plan for poverty reduction, which would include a five-year plan to eliminate child poverty.

The plan would be ambitious and the lack of details are a concern, but it is not unrealistic considering the positive steps already taken by the Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness. If any jurisdiction in Canada has the resources to reduce poverty and end chronic homelessness, it is Alberta.

According to the announcement during the campaign, consultations for the poverty reduction plan will begin in May 2012.

2 replies on “planning to end poverty and homelessness in alberta.”

Homelessness is a growth industry. There are so many gov funded orgs popping up to end poverty or hoemlessness that they are tripping over themselves. Now, the issue is a huge priority, but chaos reigns as opposed to a well coordinated effort that is not a thinly veiled job creation strategy. Overlapping bureaucracy is never a good thing, especially when your target market is being ignored to their collective detriment. The faux culture around poverty reduction/homelessness is also very similar to that of carbon culprits who use carbon offsets to rationalise their emission behaviour.

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