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MEDIA RELEASE: Alberta Counts Homeless Population

/ -- Calgary takes part in second provincial-wide homeless count

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - Oct 19, 2016) - On Wednesday, October 19, 2016, The Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF) participated in Alberta's second province-wide Point-in-Time Count of homelessness (Count). As with the October 2014 Count, this Count was undertaken as part of a 7 Cities on Housing and Homelessness initiative to assess progress in ending homelessness in the province.

The October 2014 Count found 6,663 people experiencing homelessness in Alberta with the two major urban centres of Calgary and Edmonton representing 88% of the total Count (5,862 individuals). Due to several factors such as its relative position at the crossroads of two major highways, previously strong job market and high-cost/low vacancy rates for rental housing, Calgary accounted for just over half of the total number of those counted in the province (3,555 individuals -- 53.4%). Preliminary findings for this year's Count will be released in November.

These Counts provide valuable information on homelessness and allow the 7 cities' members to monitor trends over time as well as progress on the goals of both the Provincial and 7 cities Plans to End Homelessness. Since Calgary launched its Plan to End Homelessness in 2008, over 8,000 people have been successfully housed, resulting in a 17% decrease in homelessness per 100,000 population.

"Point-in-Time Counts provide us a snapshot of homelessness on a given night," says Diana Krecsy, President & CEO of the Calgary Homeless Foundation. "In 2008, we knew we had to take collective action to change how we addressed homelessness in our city because the previous Counts showed us we were on a perilous track. If we had done nothing, homelessness today could have impacted over 10,000 people a year. Instead, we have housed over 8,000 people and are on track to house 10,000 by 2018. We've created a coordinated system of care, a single point of entry into the System and one of North America's most comprehensive data repositories on homelessness. This is remarkable progress that puts us in a leadership role in Canada. This year's Count will provide critical data to help focus our resources, helping us continue to build a system of care that ensures people have the right resources at the right time to prevent and end homelessness in their lives."

There were two parts to the Count. First, people who sleep outside were counted and offered assistance. Where possible, individuals counted were asked questions to get a better understanding of their homeless experience. Second, more than 70 facilities providing housing for people experiencing homelessness shared their data, including emergency shelters and temporary accommodations. As well, remand centres, hospital emergency rooms, police processing units and city specific sites such as the Calgary Youth Offenders Centre provided data on how many people experiencing homelessness were under their supervision or care on the night of October 19.

The 7 Cities are: the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, Grand Prairie, Edmonton, Red Deer, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge and Calgary. In Calgary, about 100 individuals were divided into over 20 teams who fanned out across specific areas of the city to conduct the count. Volunteers, elected officials, business people, people who were formerly and/or are currently homeless and representatives from Calgary Police Service, City of Calgary Animal and Bylaw Services, Calgary Parking Authority, Calgary Transit, non-profit agency outreach teams, Canadian Pacific Railway, Calgary Stampede, the University of Calgary, SAIT, Mount Royal University and Fish Creek Park were involved.

An independent consultant along with the research teams from each of the 7 Cities will compile and analyze the data. Findings will be compared with previous reports to determine trends and changes in demographics, number of people experiencing homelessness, etc. Preliminary findings, for the province and for each 7 cities member will be released in November with final reports for the Province and individual cities' anticipated to be released in the spring of 2017.

About Calgary Homeless Foundation

Calgary's Homeless-Serving System of Care is a network of agencies working together to ensure those at risk of or experiencing homelessness have timely access to the right housing with the right supports. The Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF) has the big picture view of Calgary's Homeless-Serving System of Care. We have the expertise, do the research, analyze the data, and measure gaps and progress. We mobilize best practices in funding, education, program delivery measurements and advocate for policy advancements so Calgary can reach its goal of ending homelessness.

CHF focus is on creating an effective, nimble, system of care that connects individuals to the right resources as compassionately and quickly as possible. Ending homelessness happens one person at a time by matching the right person, with the right housing, with the right supports.

About 7 Cities

Working together to end homelessness since 2001, Alberta's 7 Cities on Housing and Homelessness (7 Cities) is made up of the lead organizations responsible for the implementation of local Plans to End Homelessness. The 7 cities coordinate local plans at a systems level and align funding resources for greater impact and progress towards ending homelessness.

Darcy Halber
Communications Specialist
Calgary Homeless Foundation
Media Line: 403-615-7607