October 29, 2020
Edmonton’s homeless-serving sector and the City of Edmonton will open the doors of temporary accommodation at the Edmonton Convention Centre on October 30. The space will provide people experiencing homelessess with a warm safe place to go as winter sets in.
Boyle Street Community Services, The Mustard Seed, Bissell Centre and the Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society will operate the 24/7 accommodation space.
People who stay at the temporary accommodation can expect to be fully supported on their path toward stable housing, as well as having access to mental health, addictions, overdose prevention, Indigenous, cultural, and youth support services. Laundry services, showers, enhanced storage opportunities, and daily meals will also be provided.
Initial capacity and services will be limited at first, but as community agencies hire staff and scale up, capacity and services will improve. By the end of next week, the space is expected to be able to accommodate up to 300 people for day services and overnight shelter. Anyone experiencing homelessness, including individuals at encampments, can use the temporary accommodation at the convention centre.
There are approximately 2,000 people experiencing homelessness, with 600 sleeping outside or unsheltered on any given night. It’s estimated that almost 200
people are becoming homeless each month. Because of physical distancing requirements, there are fewer overnight emergency shelter spaces and day services for people experiencing homelessness. The pandemic has also dramatically increased the number and visibility of vulnerable people in our city.
This collaborative response increases the number of emergency accommodations and provides significantly expanded access to daytime support services in Edmonton.
In addition, the City is supporting the Hope Mission in creating a temporary shelter at Commonwealth Stadium. The space accommodates more than 100 people and is expected to operate until March. The Commonwealth Stadium space has opened initially as an overnight shelter to replace space previously provided at the Central Lions Senior Centre. The City is working with Hope Mission to confirm its operational plans and ensure resources are in place to move to a 24/7 shelter model on the site. The Mustard Seed will also expand its shelter and programming for vulnerable populations with a new 24/7 facility on the south side that is scheduled to open November 2.
The agencies will operate the temporary accommodation using $8 million in funding from the federal and provincial governments to help municipalities respond to COVID-19. An additional $500,000 will be reallocated from the City’s 2020 budget.
Halls A, B, and C on the Assembly Level of the Edmonton Convention Centre will be used for the temporary accommodation. Totalling 85,000 square feet, the physical space will allow for physical distancing due to COVID-19. Intake procedures will include COVID-19 screening measures to ensure the safety of everyone at the facility. The temporary accommodation is expected to remain open until March 31, 2020.