News / Edmonton

Homelessness on steady decline in Edmonton

This year's Homeless Count marks 24% decrease since 2014.

Edmonton's Homeless Count is showing a steady decline in the number of people living on the streets.

File / Metro Order this photo

Edmonton's Homeless Count is showing a steady decline in the number of people living on the streets.

The number of people experiencing homelessness continues to decline in Edmonton despite the recession, according to new numbers from Homeward Trust.

The 2016 Homeless Count, conducted over a 24-hour period on Oct. 19 and 20 this year, found 1,752 people living without some form of homelessness – marking a 24 per cent decrease from 2014, the last time the count was conducted.

In that same period, the city’s overall population has increased 2.5 per cent.

Homeless numbers have been on a fairly consistent downward trend since 2008, dropping 43 per cent over that period, according to the count's data.

But Homeward Trust CEO Susan McGee said this is not necessarily time to celebrate.

“We still have almost 1,800 people living on the street,” she said. “I know that there are, and reasonably so, individuals experiencing homelessness that are extremely frustrated that they aren’t getting housing as quickly as we would like to be able to house them.”

McGee credits much of Edmonton's success in reducing homelessness to a 10-year joint plan between the city and the province, as well as the Housing First program, which launched in 2009.

More recently, Homeward Trust’s Urgent Families project decreased the number of families living on the street by 51 per cent since 2014.

“There is a limit to what any support worker and any housing worker can do. So I don’t want to be overly congratulatory about the reduction, but I think what it does say is that Housing First is absolutely working,” McGee said.

This was the first year that Alberta’s seven largest cities conducted their count on the same day. Across the province, 5,373 people were counted as experiencing homelessness, representing a 19.2 per cent decrease since 2014 and a 31 per cent decrease since 2008.

McGee acknowledged that the count represents a point in time and does not necessarily catch all people experiencing homelessness in Edmonton.

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74:
Percentage of people experiencing homelessness in Edmonton who are men
48: Percentage who are indigenous, compared to the provincial average of 28 per cent
Indigenous people make up 5 per cent of Edmonton's general population
70: Number of people counted this year who are veterans of the military or RCMP

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