Clock ticking on Red Deer’s plan to end homelessness

10-year plan released in 2008

Red Deer’s plan to end homelessness by the end of the year is running out of time.

In February 2008, the document EveryOne’s Home: Red Deer’s Vision and Framework on Ending Homelessness by 2018 was released.

Janell Bunbury, with the city’s social planning department, could not say right now to what extent homelessness has been achieved.

More than 1,000 people have been housed since 2009, says the city’s housing program co-ordinator.

An annual report will be released in the next few weeks for 2016-17 and more data will be analyzed and released at a later date.

But the city is in a good place to take what it has learned and move forward, said Bunbury.

“Right now our plan says that we want to work to a point where anyone that presents to our system for services is housed within 28 days. It’s not necessarily an absolute end to homelessness,” said Bunbury about the 2014-18 EveryOne’s Home plan, the city’s most recent five-year plan to end homelessness.

Instead, the focus is on “functional zero” which means having a systematic response in place to ensure homelessness is prevented whenever possible, and rehousing people quickly, she said.

“Does that mean that we’ll necessarily meet our goal of having absolute zero homelessness? Not necessarily. We may not have achieved that shared goal, but we have a better understanding than ever before of what it takes to address homelessness in our community and what we need to do to move forward.

“Back in 2008 when we were doing this work we were very new into the world of homelessness and what that meant to end it. At that time we didn’t have a lot of data in place. We didn’t have a lot structures in place and programs in place to address homelessness.”

Bunbury said as the community moves forward it needs to look at how it defines ending homelessness.

She said like many communities, Red Deer had an ambitious goal and has seen many successes in meeting targets outlined in its original 10-year plan. Those include Housing First, a recover-orientated approach to move people quickly into housing and then providing additional supports, and co-ordinating services so different programs can work together to provide supports with priority on rough sleepers and long-term shelter users.

However, the availability of affordable housing remains a challenge for all communities and needs to be addressed, she said.

“In the coming months we’ll be working with the community to define what follows EveryOne’s Home plan to end homelessness, looking at what data we have and what we need to do moving forward.”

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