EDMONTON - Yesterday, a committee of Edmonton’s City Council met and discussed several reports related to the housing and homelessness crisis facing the city. Advocacy group Public Interest Alberta is urging all levels of government to step up to fulfill their obligations to ensure housing is a human right for every human being in Alberta and across the country.
“The homelessness crisis is spiraling out of control,” said Bradley Lafortune, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “Homelessness in Edmonton has more than doubled since the start of the pandemic. This summer, we could be facing another extreme heat wave. Drug poisonings have reached epidemic levels. And skyrocketing unaffordability means even more people are being pushed to the brink of extreme poverty.”
“Decades of underfunding for public supportive housing from the provincial and federal governments have left cities in the lurch for dealing with the housing crisis,” said Lafortune. “Cities are not equipped to deal with this crisis on their own. We need robust investment from the provincial and federal governments. Without significant investment in safe and healthy non-market housing, the municipal government is left to play catch-up with urgent responses to extreme weather or emergency shelter needs, rather than addressing the issue at the root cause."
“And while of course people experiencing homelessness need urgent help, we can’t forget the nearly fifty-thousand households in Edmonton who sit on a razer’s edge in core housing need,” added Lafortune. “We need solutions for renters from the provincial government. A staggering 17% of renters spend more than 50% of their income on rent and utilities. This is totally unsustainable.”
“The City of Edmonton is considering a several scenarios for their affordable housing investment strategy,” said Lafortune. “They’re looking at the creation of about 3500+ units of affordable housing and contributing $246.4 million over the next three years. This would be amazing for making some progress, but for the total eradication of homelessness and core housing need, we need significantly more investment from the provincial and federal government. With today’s announcement of a provincial surplus, there is no excuse for the provincial government not to act in the public interest. They must redirect the surplus to where it is needed most, including affordable housing and addressing homelessness. ”
“We need to address this crisis at the root,” emphasized Lafortune. “Edmonton trails behind other Canadian cities in affordable housing per capita. We need more housing, and we need it now. Housing is a human right, and all levels of government need to act like it.”