The number of persons experiencing homelessness in shelters, on the streets, in hospital and in transitional housing in Red Deer decreased from 137 in 2014 to 131 in Red Deer’s 2016 Point in Time (PIT) count Oct. 19th.
That drop continues the trend in Red Deer. This latest count represents a 46% decrease in the number of persons experiencing homelessness since the 2012 PIT count, when 279 people were counted.
The count is done every two years to get an accurate picture of homelessness and changes over time, as well as to collect data to improve housing and services for persons experiencing homelessness.
“Our community is working together to address this issue,” said Mayor Veer. “With the tireless efforts of agencies in serving their clients and making improvements to the system, we are helping our most vulnerable citizens and moving toward ending homelessness.”
As a change in methodology this year, enumerators counted two other sites – the John Howard Society and the Red Deer Remand Centre – which account for an additional 18 people bringing the total to 149.
Other factors affecting the count locally: unemployment increased 3% from 2014 to 2016; the population recorded a slight net increase; and vacancy rates increased from 2.1% to 2.4%.
Another trend notes that street homelessness is up while shelter numbers are down.
Local efforts to house individuals are ongoing and meeting with success. According to the annual report Closer to Home, 728 individuals were housed or received supports since 2009 through provincial and federal grants, of which 229 new individuals were housed or supported in 2015-2016.
Approximately 300 community volunteers and 15 organizations participated in Red Deer 2016 PIT count.
“The participation for this year’s count illustrates the work being done on a community level,” said Janell Bunbury. “When the broader community gets involved, we can better tackle this community challenge.”