On April 11th and 12th, Homeward Trust along with volunteers and community partners will be conducting a count of people experiencing homelessness in Edmonton.
Homeless Counts have been conducted in Edmonton since 1999, providing a snapshot of homelessness in our community, while monitoring changes and trends in the homeless population over time. The results of these counts are used by community agencies, researchers and government to inform ongoing efforts to prevent and end homelessness.
This year marks the 13th Edmonton Homeless Count. The 2018 count will be coordinated in alignment with similar efforts provincially and nationally. By using a common approach and methodology across the country, the results can be used to gain a better understanding of homelessness not only locally, but also across Canada.
Between 1999 and 2008, the Homeless Counts in Edmonton showed a steadily increasing rate of homelessness. Demonstrating this increasing need in community was a key factor that led to Edmonton’s Plan to End Homelessness in 2009. Since the launch of the Plan, the number of people identified as experiencing homelessness in the Edmonton Homeless Count has been reduced by 43%. Detailed information and results of past Homeless Counts are available here.
A homeless count is a collective effort to learn and to generate awareness about the scope and experience of homelessness in a community. However, a well-designed homeless-serving system is also positioned to monitor need and adapt to shifts on an ongoing basis. In Edmonton, the practice of a shared “By Name List” of those experiencing homelessness continues to improve our understanding of need in real-time. The Homeless Count will provide additional depth and context to data available through the By Name List.
Homelessness is a significant issue for all Edmontonians. It affects how we relate to our neighbours, and it affects how the systems and structures in our city work within our community. Edmonton has a long history of collaborating as a community committed to achieve the goal of ending homelessness.
Data from the count is crucial for community agencies, researchers, and government to estimate the size and demographic characteristics of our homeless population and to measure the impact of various housing initiatives and policies. Homeless Count data is also vital in advocating for needed resources, and for raising awareness among policymakers and the general population about the scope of homelessness locally, provincially, and nationally.
With the national standardization of the count survey and our consistent methodology, the Homeless Count is part of the data used to assess progress in ending homelessness in Edmonton. Data obtained from the count informs the picture of different subpopulations, including Indigenous and Immigrant/Refugee populations, unaccompanied children and youth, and veterans.
The Edmonton Homeless Count Committee, made up of members of the housing sector, partner agencies, orders of government, and members of the community, are actively involved with organizing and implementing this count. Representatives include, AHS, Bent Arrow, Boyle Street Community Services, City of Edmonton, Edmonton Public Library, Edmonton Social Planning Council, EndPoverty Edmonton, EPS, Human Services, Mustard Seed, Native Counselling Services Alberta, REACH, and Youth Empowerment & Supports Services (YESS).
The Edmonton Homeless Count will take place over a 24-hour period from April 11-12. Teams of volunteers fan out across the city to conduct the survey on predetermined routes, including areas close to drop-in centres, libraries, temporary employment agencies, bottle depots, and other places. Volunteers will also be counting in emergency shelters during the night count, and data will be collected provincially from health and justice facilities.
In 2016, 1,752 individuals experiencing homelessness were counted which marked a decrease of 43% from the 2008 count. Since Edmonton launched a Plan to End Homelessness in 2009, over 6,800 people have been housed and supported through the Housing First program.
There is also a significant over-representation of Indigenous peoples amongst those experiencing homelessness in Edmonton. Although only 6% of the overall population identifies as Indigenous, 48% of those enumerated in the 2016 Homeless Count identified as Indigenous.
Although we have made strong progress, we know that we still have much work to do. Edmonton’s Updated Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, released in fall 2017, reinforces coordination across Edmonton’s homeless serving sector and enhanced integration with other services and supports.
The Homeless Count will occur regardless of the weather conditions, unless a weather advisory is issued by the city.
Copies of all previous Count Reports and the 2016 Count report are available on the Homeward Trust Edmonton website at http://homewardtrust.ca/what-weve-learned/reports-publications/
The Homeless Count is a point-in-time count of Edmonton’s homeless population that provides a current snapshot and enables us to examine how this population changes over time. The results of the count are used by community agencies, researchers and government to estimate the size and demographic characteristics across time of our homeless population in order to inform our ongoing efforts to prevent and end homelessness.
We use Homeless Count data to:
There are many faces of homelessness, and none fit a specific description. As you will be surveying everyone you encounter during your shift, you may encounter a variety of experiences. You may encounter people who have homes, are staying with friends, couch surfing, living in a shelter, living in their cars, or camping in the river valley. It is important to keep an open mind and treat everyone with respect.
All volunteers will be placed in teams of two or more for the entirety of the shift. While we do not anticipate any unsafe situations for volunteers, given the positive experiences of volunteers since 1999, safety measures are in place to ensure all volunteers feel safe throughout their shift. In an effort to deliver a consistent safety message, all volunteers must attend the mandatory training sessions.