More than double the number of people are experiencing homelessness in Red Deer now than five years ago, according to the latest Point in Time (PIT) Count.
And most of the homeless people who were surveyed cited lack of income as the reason for their un-housed state.
According to a release from the City of Red Deer, the 2022 federally funded, municipally done survey shows 334 people were experiencing homelessness in the city compared to 144 individuals in 2018.
Of the 334 people counted as homeless, 29 per cent slept outside — which is an increase from the 13 per cent found to be camping out in 2018.
Nearly 200 people were listed as using local emergency shelters or transitional facilities in 2022, up from 86 in 2018.
Of the 334 people counted during the 2022 PiT Count, 156 individuals participated in the voluntary survey portion of the count.
This provides information that helps the City of Red Deer and partnering organizations better understand factors contributing to homelessness and how to best target local supports.
“The survey showed us that lack of income was the most reported reason for housing loss, and the top barrier to finding new housing,” said Ryan Veldkamp, social wellness and integration supports supervisor for the City of Red Deer.
“This further helps us understand how crucial housing affordability is to tackling the issue of homelessness in Red Deer.”
The 2022 PIT count was conducted in shelters, on the streets, in the hospital and correctional facilities, and in transitional housing.
Enumerators conducted the count in co-ordination with Alberta’s 7 Cities on Housing and Homelessness and with federal government guidelines.
“Typically, the PiT Count is completed every other year; however, we had to delay the counts due to the pandemic,” said Veldkamp. “Over the past four years, outreach staff reported a rise in the number of people experiencing homelessness and the count and survey data confirmed their expectations.”
This was the fifth time the Point in Time Count has been conducted in Red Deer.
The count is co-ordinated with communities across Canada and is funded by the Government of Canada’s Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy. The data collected is used to build an understanding of how the population changes over time and what their needs are so housing programs and support services can be improved.
On Thursday, Alberta Seniors, Community and Social Services Minister Jeremy Nixon announced 600 new affordable housing units are on the way — but none in central Alberta.
Alberta’s Affordable Housing Partnership Program will provide $54 million to support 17 projects in nine communities, all but three in the Edmonton and Calgary areas.
Other grants went to Lethbridge, Falher (north of High Prairie), and Cold lake.
For more information on the Point in Time Count, visit www.reddeer.ca/PITcount. To read the community housing and homelessness integrated plan or for more information visit www.reddeer.ca/homelessness.