Over two hundred volunteers partnered with agencies and city staff to do Homeless Count 2016.
The task, as always is challenging, but teams of volunteers hit the streets and alleys, shelters, and walked the river valleys to engage with people in need. The count is an important tool for Canada’s cities, as it helps different levels of government see where needs are being met or missed, and how better to respond.
The Homeless Count is never able to capture the whole picture, as it is difficult to measure the hidden homeless, but the information helps inform decisions. This year’s numbers show that some of Edmonton’s hard work is paying off.
2016 Count: 1,752 is a 43% decrease over the previous year.
70% of these are chronically homeless.
Indigenous: 48% (Pop 5%)
Veterans: 70 veterans of military or RCMP
Unsheltered: 22% 374
Emergency Sheltered: 43% 745
Provisionally Accommodated: 36% – 633
Families – success! 246 housed between January 2015 to March 2016. We saw a 51% decrease in homeless families from 2014 to 2016.
Youth – 240 counted in 2014; 129 counted in 2016
Here are a few front line stories from volunteers who participated in the count:
“I spoke with a man who had been homeless for 20 years. He is now in subsidized housing and no longer an alcoholic, and he mentioned being helped along the way by Homeward Trust. He spoke about the difficulties of getting off the streets but still having homeless friends, and being around people who still abuse. It was a nice chat, and interesting to hear his story.”
“We were humbled by how honest the participants were …so accommodating and caring. People expressed concern for us. There is a true sense of community and helping among the homeless population of Edmonton.”
“Regardless, it was an eye-opening experience learning the hardships of constantly waiting in line for food and shelter, and not feeling independent.”
“The number of homeless people my partner and I encountered, who I’d never have guessed would be homeless based on appearances, blew me away.”
“I only got through about half a dozen surveys in the time I was at the shelter. This wasn’t because it was difficult or tedious, but because the men I spoke with were just looking to have someone listen as they shared their stories – and their stories ranged so widely, especially given the economic downturn of the past year. It was incredibly humbling just to sit there, going through the survey, yes, but the questions were just a medium and excuse to start conversations about life and experiences lived.”
“Respondents helped me to understand more of who is experiencing homelessness and why. One fellow was working in Ft. Mac and lost his truck with possessions to the fire. He has spent the last year homeless in Edmonton, struggling with his insurance company. UGH!”
“A couple of the folks had just received word that they were going to get an apartment through Housing First and were so excited! Two different respondents had dealt with homelessness in the past and received assistance from Housing First. They expressed major gratitude.”