The Alberta government announced yesterday (Monday) that it will move to shut down a homeless encampment in Edmonton on September 15. Edmonton, and Alberta, are experiencing among the worst housing conditions anywhere in Canada – ownership and rent costs are sky-high, the supply is inadequate, there is little government support for affordable housing and few protections for tenants.
At it’s height, Edmonton’s tent city had about 200 people squatting on the site near the city’s downtown core. In recent days, the numbers have dwindled to less than 100. The Alberta government says that there is room in the city’s shelter system for the homeless campers.
Three years ago, when Home Depot dispatched a small army of private security guards to forcibly remove more than 100 people who had been camping on their site on Toronto’s waterfront, the City of Toronto stepped in after an effective advocacy campaign. Using provincial dollars, the city provided rent supplements and some minimal social supports to the Toronto tent city residents so that they move into vacant private apartments.
After two years of study, the Toronto project was declared a major success – for the residents who remained stably housed and for governments, which benefitted from a cost-effective solution.
Definitely a policy option that the Alberta government should consider.