In 2008, 3,079 people were counted as homeless. The 10 Year Plan developed by the Committee focuses on the Housing First principle. Shelters and drop-in centers and other emergency supports, do not solve the problem of homelessness, they simply manage the crisis. The Housing First approach says the first step in solving the problem is to find people permanent homes and give them the support they need to be successful in those homes. This philosophy represents a shift away from the theory that people have to be ‘prepared’ or ‘transitioned’ into housing by first dealing with mental health and addiction issues or finding a job. It recognizes that the best place to deal with those issues is not living on the street but in safe, secure housing. The Plan focuses on chronically homeless people. (U.S. experience suggests 10 to 30% of homeless people are chronically homeless but use about 50% of the resources devoted to homelessness.) But the goals and strategies outlined address the entire homeless population and those at risk of losing their homes. The approach is to ‘open the back door’ out of homelessness by rapidly re-housing people in crisis and ensuring they are fully supported, and ‘close the front door’ through prevention programs aimed at people at risk of becoming homeless. Estimated annual costs pertaining to homelessness is $4.5 – 6 billion to tax payers for 150,000 homeless people across Canada. The Housing First approach is being used by several Edmonton organizations: Homeward Trust, Hope Mission and the Jasper Place Health and Wellness Centre have launched a Rapid Exit Shelter Program. Its goal is to move 80 people, currently living in temporary shelters, into permanent homes this year and provide them with the services they need to stay in their homes.
Read the Executive Summary here.
Background Questions and Answers can be found here.
Homelessness-Related Research Capacities in Alberta: A Comprehensive Environmental Scan, prepared by Dr. Katharina Kovacs Burns, MSc, MHSA, PhD and Dr. Solina Richter, PhD, RN for The Alberta Homelessness Research Consortium (2010)