Flicking a cigarette butt over a ledge toward the river valley with manicured fingernails, Angie smiled and said: “I’m not supposed to be here.”

Angie, who didn’t want her last name printed, recently joined a new demographic of homeless Edmontonians, quickly finding themselves at rock-bottom after a swath of recession-inspired layoffs.

The Shaw Conference Centre served as a beacon of hope yesterday for more than 1,000 people down on their luck. The second Homeless Connect brought essentials like housing, food, clothing, employment, dental care, haircuts and immunizations together under one roof.

While Angie, 38, doesn’t fit the weathered, beaten-down image of homelessness, she’s not alone.

Front-line experts say middle-class people battling the economic downturn are increasingly finding themselves in desperate situations.

“Poverty knows no bounds,” said Housing Service Support Hub spokeswoman Tanya Hellier.

“Becoming homeless can be very traumatic, especially for people who have never been in the situation before. They might not know where or how to get help.”

After working for 16 years as a dispatcher, Angie was laid off. With no education, savings, or family in Alberta to lean on, she was evicted from her apartment with nowhere to go.

She stumbled upon the event yesterday afternoon, walking back to a friend’s home after handing out resumes downtown. She said asking for help from strangers was a necessary dose of humility.

“I’ve been trying to deny my situation for three months, but I guess it’s time to get help, because I’m still not working and sleeping on someone’s couch,” she said.

More than 3,000 homeless were counted in a census conducted late last year. Organizer Ione Challborn feels the actual number of homeless in Edmonton may be much higher.