Updated: Aug 20
Homelessness is an ongoing crisis in our city. In recent years the combined efforts of the City of Edmonton and Homeward Trust have done a great deal of work to help rectify this issue and assist the most vulnerable members of our communities, but is it enough? Our plan to end homelessness needs some fine tuning. We need to educate Edmontonians and stop the spread of misinformation associated with this issue. Homelessness can affect anyone, our brothers and sisters, friends, coworkers, the young and the elderly. So many people slip between the cracks in society and stay silent in fear of judgment and ridicule. These people need our support, and to be met with compassion more than anything.
The last year and a half has been painstakingly difficult for all of us. We have all had a taste of isolation and the social disconnection that affects the daily lives of our homeless population. I want to challenge all who read this to imagine just how challenging it would have been to endure this pandemic without a roof over your head, regular access to a washroom, or the support of your family, friends and community. With record breaking numbers in areas like job losses and household debt many people in our city are facing the very real possibility of losing their homes. Hidden homlessness is the least visible yet most common type of homelessness in our city. Over 20,000 households in Edmonton are overcrowded, unsafe or unaffordable. Many citizens are spending well over 50% of their income just to keep a roof over their heads, this is not a sustainable way of life.
An emphasis on trauma informed care is essential in order to properly combat the issues of chronic and episodic homelessness. Roughly 25% percent of our homeless population experience recurring episodes of homelessness throughout their lifetime. These individuals are more likely to experience complex hardships in regards to mental and physical health, violence and addiction. It is imperative that we have therapists, doctors and programs in place that are adequately equipped to deal with the wide range of concerns that our homeless community experiences. Pinpointing route causes for chronic homelessness and actively supporting individuals while they heal from past trauma is essential. Treatment, recovery and rehabilitation will never be a one size fits all solution. As a city we need to approach homelessness with creativity, respect, proper education and the utmost compassion.