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Red Deer creates real-time homeless list

Federal funding helping Red Deer and other communities across Canada
A homeless camp located in a wooded area north of Gasoline Alley between the north and southbound lanes of Hwy 2 was removed for safety reasons in 2015. (File photo from Red Deer Advocate)

Red Deer is getting help in its effort to end chronic homelessness.

The city is one of 38 communities that will benefit from $885,000 in federal funding to extend the 20,000 Homes Campaign, which was developed by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness.

The campaign promotes the use of real-time lists, called by-name lists, that include data on all the people experiencing homelessness in a community. The campaign also helps to streamline and bring consistency to the process of accessing housing and services.

Alliance president Tim Richter said by-name lists are a new approach that is transforming homeless systems and accelerating progress.

“Red Deer is one of the first communities in the country to have a quality by-name list. That gives them unprecedented visibility in the homeless system,” Richter said of those without shelter.

Tricia Hercina, social planning manager with the city, said it’s taken about a year to get all the pieces together for the list. In addition to identifying who is homeless, the list shows who is moving in and out of the homeless system, she said.

“That is a frequent occurrence with our homeless population,” Hercina said.

She said the 20,000 Homes Campaign is helping the city to better understand the needs of the community.

“From a data and research perspective, the more information we have, and the better we understand how people are utilizing and accessing serving systems, the better informed we can be about what those service provisions are to best serve them,” Hercina said.

Richter said the beauty of working with Red Deer is the city’s experience, adding other communities can learn from the city.

“In many respects, Red Deer, like Edmonton, are leaders in this process and they are going to be helping a lot of other communities around the country.”

The federal funding, which was announced last week, allows Red Deer and the other communities to participate in training and support activities over the next six months. Some face-to-face, over the phone, as well as online training will take place.

Red Deer has been a part of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness since it began.

“Red Deer is, and has been, a leader in Canada on preventing and reducing homelessness. One of the first plans to end homelessness in Canada was in Red Deer,” Richter said.

“I’m hopeful that Red Deer will be one of the first communities in Canada to effectively end chronic homelessness.”

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Susan Zielinski

About the Author: Susan Zielinski

Susan has been with the Red Deer Advocate since 2001. Her reporting has focused on education, social and health issues.
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