Edmonton to create shelter to replace homeless camps during pandemic
EDMONTON -- The city is using federal and provincial money to create a shelter that will house the hundreds of Edmontonians experiencing homelessness during the pandemic.
Edmonton is putting $8 million toward a city-owned facility that will be open 24/7 until March and include day programming and meal services.
Mayor Don Iveson said the city will announce the location of the shelter later this week when all details are finalized.
Last Thursday, Iveson said he would do "whatever it takes" to house the city's most vulnerable and deliver on his promise to end homelessness within 10 weeks.
"We're deeply concerned about the wellbeing of Edmontonians experiencing homelessness and the rising numbers of people sleeping rough in our city, including those living in the camps that have been so high profile," Iveson said Monday. "So we're planning for this accommodation to be a safe and welcoming, better alternative to the camps."
There are approximately 2,000 people experiencing homelessness in Edmonton — a number that has increased by about 200 since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The city says approximately 600 of them sleep outside every night.
"Our goal, again, is to get everyone off the street this month, in October, and provide them pathways to get everyone into bridge housing and ultimately into supportive long-term housing," the mayor said.
Interim city manager Adam Laughlin would not say what would happen with the camps in Old Strathcona and Rossdale, only that he hopes they will choose to move to the shelter.
Iveson says Edmonton will need help from the provincial government to plan and operate the shelter.
The funding is split in half between Ottawa and the Alberta government.