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“There is rising public demand for action to support vulnerable people and address the social disorder associated with allowing these circumstances to persist,” Iveson told reporters Wednesday. “As winter nears, we cannot afford to be in the situation as we are now with both the camp and the underlying lack of transitional housing available for people.”
City council is advocating for the provincial and federal governments to provide funding for the purchase of underused hotels or apartment buildings that may be up for sale under market value due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Council is also seeking assistance to provide services in the transitional housing complexes.
“The crux of the motion which council considered today … includes looking at the possibility of using any existing spaces that may have become recently available on an advantageous or discounted basis, really, because of the economic challenges that we’re seeing here,” Iveson said. “Spaces that could at least be used as temporary housing so we can begin to move people out of the cycle of homelessness and into long-term suitable and supportive accommodations.”
In a statement to Postmedia last week, Community and Social Services Ministry spokeswoman Diane Carter said the province committed $92 million in the 2020-21 budget to community organizations that provide housing opportunities. In Edmonton, Homeward Trust received $28.7 million this year for permanent, supportive housing as well as for support services such as intensive care management and rapid re-housing.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city said about 762 people have moved out of the shelter system and into housing.