More than 250 volunteers took part in the 2016 Point in Time (PIT) Homeless Count in Red Deer yesterday, the third official count in the community.
Volunteers canvassed nearly every neighbourhood in Red Deer asking people on the street if they had a permanent residence to return to. Additionally, persons experiencing homelessness and staying in an emergency shelter, safe house, detox centre, remand centre, or the Red Deer Regional Hospital were enumerated and/or surveyed last night as well.
Each person who agreed to participate was asked to answer a 16-question survey that addressed a number of factors including reasons for and frequency of homelessness, source of income, shelter use, Aboriginal status and education.
“The information we gathered enables us to see how the population changes over time so we can improve planning for programs and services to serve vulnerable Red Deerians,” said Roxana Nielsen Stewart, social planning supervisor with the City of Red Deer. “The data is key to measuring our progress and reaching our goal of ending homelessness.”
Everyone’s Home: Red Deer’s Five Year Plan to End Homelessness 2014 – 2015 sets out a target of ending homelessness by the end of 2018, meaning that a person presenting to the system should be housed within 28 days.
This year’s PIT count was undertaken in coordination among the Seven Cities on Housing and Homelessness, which includes Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Grande Prairie and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. The group has done significant work to standardize the methodology across the cities.
The last PIT count in 2014 enumerated 137 persons. In 2012, 279 people were found to be homeless. A change in methodology was a factor in the decrease. The enumeration methodology this year remains the same as the count in 2014.
Preliminary results from the 2016 PIT count are expected to be released later this fall.