October 15, 2020
Staff from Boyle Street Community Services have begun meeting with people currently living in the homeless encampment at Light Horse Park to offer them opportunities to transition into short-term, temporary accommodation. Outreach will continue until the end of the month.
With temperatures dropping and the COVID-19 pandemic still a significant threat, it is critical that those living in encampments be provided options for warm, safe bridge accommodation while the City of Edmonton and its partners continue to work on permanent housing options. Organizers of the Light Horse Park encampment have announced publicly that they intend to wind down the camp by October 18.
“Edmontonians are worried about the residents of these camps. We want these individuals to be safe, warm and living in a supportive community,” said Branch Manager for Social Development Jackie Foord. “The best solution for homelessness is housing. Our plans for both temporary and bridge accommodation will quickly provide safe options for those who are experiencing homelessness as they follow a path to permanent housing.”
The City of Edmonton is funding this short-term accommodation program with a grant from the COVID-19 Community Response Fund for Vulnerable Populations administered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and made possible by a philanthropic donation from the Canadian Medical Association Foundation.
Boyle Street Community Services is finalizing agreements with property owners and will be able to transition many individuals who are living in encampments into short-term accommodation in the coming weeks.
“We are committed to ensuring that vulnerable Edmontonians have a diversity of supports from which to choose,” said Jared Tkachuk, Acting Director of Programs
with Boyle Street Community Services. “The important partnership with the City of Edmonton will bolster our existing outreach services and ensure those sleeping rough in Light Horse Park are provided services that have the potential to create lasting success.”
COVID-19 has increased the number of people in Edmonton who are falling into homelessness. Current estimates are that 180 Edmontonians are now becoming homeless every month. Presently, there are approximately 2,000 people experiencing homelessness, with 600 sleeping outside or unsheltered on any given night — including nearly 45 at Light Horse Park.