EDMONTON -Today, the City of Edmonton’s Community and Public Services Committee reviewed a report and presentation on the state of homelessness and the City’s proposed response to encampments, highlighting the Provincial Government’s lack of action on bridge housing, supportive housing, and emergency shelter services. In the face of this ongoing crisis, Public Interest Alberta calls for transparency and compassion through a human rights based approach to housing and homelessness.
“Housing is a human right. Full stop. People in encampments deserve better than inhumane treatment. They are our community members,” said Bradley Lafortune, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “Without urgent action, the City’s report today will only continue the inhumane practice of displacing Edmontonians experiencing homelessness while doing nothing differently to resolve the crisis. The City needs to undertake a transparent and fair review with proper consultation of those affected by their decisions. They need to take a rights-based approach in all their dealings with the housing and homeslessness crisis.”
“The situation was already bad, and it has only become worse. The number of Edmontonians experiencing homelessness has doubled since the start of the pandemic,” said Lafortune. “With the City set to lose 634 emergency shelter beds by June – a staggering 44% decrease – it’s completely unacceptable that the response for this summer is to simply ramp up the teardowns of encampments.”
“Instead, the City needs to demand resources from the province to continue and to expand services like bridge housing, not close it down like they are with the Coliseum Inn,” said Lafortune.
“The City report talks about ‘ongoing advocacy’ to the Provincial government, but the provincial budget for housing and homelessness can only be described as a slap in the face,” said Lafortune. “We don’t have any reason to believe the Province’s “Coordinated Community Response to Homelessness Task Force” has the right approach, resources or that it was set forth with the appropriate mandate or urgency to meet the current crisis in our communities.”
Lafortune added, “All levels of government need to recognize the dignity of every single member of our communities and act to enshrine housing as a human right for all.”