More than 500 people who were living in Edmonton’s streets are now living in homes of their own, say organizers behind a 10-year-long plan to end homelessness.
Anne Smith, chair of Edmonton’s Homeless commission, says the move found close to 450 permanent homes for some of the thousands of homeless people living in the city after the first year of the plan.
And that’s well over the plan’s original goal of securing 150 homes by 2010, says Smith.
“There was an incredible state of readiness within the community to take on this challenge,” said Smith during an interview with Metro.
“While we were developing the plan, people were starting to get ready to implement the plan.
We didn’t just wait for a year to launch. We were actually putting the infrastructure in place.”
Smith says the city’s private sector stepped up to make housing available, along with funding from Alberta’s government.
Mayor Stephen Mandel says the plan’s original goal to get over 100 people living in Edmonton streets into homes was “a little progressive,” but admits he was pleasantly surprised when he heard about the results of the plan after its first year.
“It’s good news for the city of Edmonton and it’s great news for those people who have been impacted by homelessness,” said Mandel.
“Now they can see there is a light at the end of the tunnel … There’s tears in my eyes.”
Edmonton also has its first furniture bank after the first year of the plan, where those who are living in placed homes can access free sofas, beds and other pieces of furniture.
“People need that,” said Charles Guick, who was helped by the program last year after living in Edmonton’s streets for 20 years.
“They need to put stuff into their houses. They need to put something in their lives to make their lives more important.”
But Smith says there’s still a lot of work to be done, and the plan still needs “adequate funding” from Alberta’s government.