Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a home. According to a citywide survey by Homeward Trust in 2016, 1,752 people experience homelessness in Edmonton.
Luckily, people in this situation have access to resources, starting with the City of Edmonton and the 24/7 Crisis Diversion Team.
“[We focus] on strategies to eliminate homelessness with housing and support, rather than just managing the problem with short-term solutions,” said Adrienne Hill, communications advisor for the city.
The city works closely with the housing sector and community partners to develop public education tools that provide the public and businesses with information on who to call should they see someone in distress. However, a basic rule of thumb is to call 211 if you see someone who is poorly dressed for the weather, shivering, or appears to be suffering from mental health issues or intoxication.
The City of Edmonton Services (311) and the Crisis Diversion Team operate citywide for assistance regarding homelessness.
REACH Edmonton Council for Safe Communities heads the 24/7 Crisis Diversion Team. The team works with Edmonton Police Service, REACH Edmonton, Hope Mission, Boyle Street Community Services, 211, Edmonton Police Service (EPS), and Alberta Health Services Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to provide crisis intervention services.
The team responds to over 1,000 calls monthly from citizens all over Edmonton via 211, EPS, and EMS, among others.
“Homeless persons make up 72 per cent of the Crisis Diversion Team’s clients,” said Marilyn Gray, public information officer for REACH Edmonton. Team members assess the situation of the person in crisis and connect them to the supports needed.
Alternate outreach services are available through organizations such as Boyle Street Community Services, Edmonton Public Library, and Crossroads Outreach team.
“Most of the folks transported are intoxicated, without shelter, and extremely grateful for the ride,” said Jared Tkachuk, outreach services manager at Boyle Street Community Services.
“Boyle Street on its own has programs related to housing, harm reduction, Indigenous cultural support, physical health, mental health, adult/family/youth services, crisis response, employment, financial support and banking services, ID, recreation, and in addition operates a drop-in with meal service,” said Tkachuk.
Resources available in the Alberta Avenue area include St. Faith’s and St. Stephen’s Anglican Church, Crystal Kids, Bent Arrow, and Edmonton Public Library (Sprucewood branch). These organizations provide everything from community meals to access to housing to social support.
For residents, the city has developed a Winter Emergency Response (WER) Strategic Planning Committee to help organize winter services. Every year, the city issues a Winter Emergency Response Guide outlining these services.
In the meantime, it’s critical individuals are provided the care and supports they need to enhance their dignity, safety, health, and well-being.
St. Faith’s and St. Stephen’s Anglican Church (11725 93 St, parish hall)
Community meals offered Thursday-Saturday.
Crystal Kids (8718 118 Ave)
Mentoring, arts & culture programming, educational support, recreational programming, & nutrition.
Bent Arrow (11666 95 St)
Access to food, finances, & housing.
Edmonton Public Library – Sprucewood branch (11555 95 St)
Call 911 for someone who is in serious distress or in an emergency.
Winter Emergency Response Guide & other resources: edmonton.ca/homelessness.
Featured Image: As of 2016, 1,752 Edmontonians were homeless. | Pixabay