Edmonton to create new homeless plan as deaths soar – Edmonton

The City of Edmonton is about to release a new plan in its efforts to end homelessness, but it comes as council receives worrying new data about the number of people who have died.

The Public and Community Services committee on Tuesday received a report detailing the number of deaths of people without a fixed address.

According to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the number of homeless deaths in Edmonton increased from 30 people in 2017 to 302 people in 2023.

The figures are not comparable because data collection on the issue improved in 2022, but councilors still expressed concern.

“If 300 to 400 people died in traffic accidents, there would be a huge uproar in our city. “If there were 300 to 400 murders on our streets, people would be at our City Hall doors until something changed,” Ward Nakota Isga councilor Andrew Knack told the committee, noting that the chamber was instead empty on Tuesday. .

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“I can’t imagine the level of cruelty or misdirection it takes to turn a blind eye to this kind of suffering,” Ward Dene Councilman Aaron Paquette said as part of an emotional speech to the committee.

“I don’t know what we can do as a council to get this message across.”

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In 2006, Edmonton’s ten-year plan to reduce homelessness was implemented. Reduced the number of people on the city streets in the timeline, reducing it by half.

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But in 2017 the trend reversed. The pandemic erased any progress that had been made and doubled the number of homeless people in the city.

Currently, the Homeward Trust estimates there are 3,200 homeless people in Edmonton.

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Now, the city says a new plan is needed. The Homeward Trust is working on a guide that will be used.

It says up to 1,700 new supportive housing units, 250 transitional units and 600 caseload spaces are needed over the next five years.

Councilors are repeating a well-known call to action for the province to meet those needs.

“Where is that detailed provincial plan that shows how this number of units will be built, when they will be built, where they will be built and how they will be operated?” Knack said Tuesday.

“We can have the largest plan in the world, and there are many wonderful things in the plan, but the plan identifies the number of units that need to be built.”

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The city has set aside $183 million in the current four-year budget cycle for housing units.

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Advocate Nadine Chalifoux spoke to the committee on Tuesday and said finger-pointing needs to stop and real discussions need to begin.

“As in all the plans they present, something is always missing because they don’t consult enough with the public, with the people involved, with the people who lived the experience,” Chalifoux told Global News.

He said more attention needs to be paid to transitional housing in Edmonton.

The full homeless plan will be published in June.

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