Helping Canadian veterans deal with homelessness in Edmonton
EDMONTON -- It’s estimated between 3000 and 5000 veterans across Canada experience homelessness, two Alberta organizations are trying to minimize those numbers.
Ron Raynor served in the Canadian army for 20 years before developing PTSD. He says he had a good life for a time, a good job, home, and family.
“And then one day it was all gone,” said Raynor. “I went through the couch-surfing bit, this is not a good move for anybody.”
Raynor is one of around 650 veterans that are being helped by one local organization.
The Vets Canada Service Centre (VCSC) opened its doors last December and says since June they have had an average of 20 veterans a week come to them.
“We could take a veteran that walks in the door right now and in a matter of a few hours we could have him in the apartments next door,” said Lori Tremblay, a volunteer with VCSC.
VCSC provides transitional housing, a first in Canada, along with job training, food and financial supports.
“They saved me,” said Raynor. “In the sense they paid the rent to I didn't have to worry about being evicted.”
Tremblay used to volunteer in Ottawa and says one of the things she didn’t encounter in her work there was the amount of vets at risk of becoming homeless.
“A good percentage of them are in that situation so we go tapping into our resources to help them and supplement their rent.”
Tremblay says that while many receive help from Veterans Affairs that it often isn’t enough.
“Their rent is over the 30 per cent OF their income and once you get spiraling down, everything just compiles.
On Remembrance Day the federal government talked about the need to do more to help veterans transition.
“We're doing everything we can to make sure can provide a better service for the veterans but in fact the backlog is unacceptable,” said Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs.
Homes for Heroes, an organization in Calgary, looks (WANTS) to expand into Edmonton and built transitional houses here.
"We only opened on November 1st and so far two of the veterans in that village have now found employment, whereas they hadn't before they got there," said Cameron Diggon with Homes for Heroes of its Calgary project.
The village of tiny homes in Calgary consists of 15 homes under 300 square feet and a resource centre. The Edmonton village in Evansdale is currently in the pre-planning stage.
With files from CTV Edmonton’s Sarah Plowman