July 29, 2020
Joint Media Release: City of Edmonton, Alberta Health Services & Homeward Trust
In response to the public health need created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Edmonton, Alberta Community and Social Services, Alberta Health Services, Homeward Trust and social agency partners came together to create a safe space at the Edmonton EXPO Centre for community members experiencing homelessness. The goal was to prevent COVID-19 transmission amongst individuals who are experiencing homelessness, unstably housed or who use emergency shelter and drop-in services regularly.
With an average of 675 people a day visiting the EXPO Centre for a meal, a shower, laundry, to connect with others and access medical, housing, financial, and spiritual support on site, this goal was achieved, with no reported cases of COVID-19 among Edmonton’s homeless population.
Day drop-in services will close at the end of the day, July 31. These services will return to community agencies with some reduction in capacity to ensure physical distancing is maintained. Security will remain onsite until August 8 and outdoor washrooms supported by Boyle Street Ventures staff will remain until August 14. The isolation shelter will close in mid-August, and a new location will open where individuals with unstable or no housing who have COVID-19-like symptoms or confirmed COVID-19 can self isolate as required by public health orders.
Funding to operate the program had been provided by the Government of Alberta, Community and Social Services, with additional funding from the Government of Canada through Homeward Trust. The City provided staff time, security, equipment and transit services.
Alberta Health Services is closely monitoring COVID-19 cases and all partners
are continuing to work together to identify additional measures to ensure community members are supported.
This work includes the ongoing response to this public health crisis as well as expediting longer term solutions to support Edmontonians in a path out of homelessness and into housing. More details will be shared as soon as they are available.
We’d also like to recognize the efforts and commitment of all agencies, partners and individuals involved. While the work to end homelessness still remains, the collective response by our community during this unprecedented time is a commendable achievement.
The Edmonton EXPO Centre opened its doors to vulnerable individuals on March 23, 2020.