Council Votes Unanimously To Tackle Rural Homelessness And Housing Stability

A survey and estimate report are giving council better insight into the homelessness situation in our rural communities.

Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to begin taking the next steps to address the issues in the hamlets of Anzac, Janvier, Fort McKay and Fort Chipewyan.

A survey conducted between November 2018 and January 2019 by the Alberta Rural Development Network counted 148 people in those areas.

Many of those individuals are reportedly at risk of losing their housing or are unsure of their housing stability.

Speaking to council, ARDN Lead Analyst Shadi Mehrej says while the response was minimal – there is a potential homelessness and housing issue.

“Without further surveying, it is difficult to say conclusively if this is an issue. The ARDN recommends performing further estimation within these communities using expanded resources which would hopefully create strategies to use surveys that are targeted for these types of communities.”

The next steps include Administration working with community partners to address inadequate housing.

Mehrej says their results indicate the unstable housing population is predominantly Metis in these areas.

“All respondents did not say ‘we are in unstable housing’, of the 56 surveys we collected, 26 said they were in unstable housing and if you examine the numbers you will see that most of them were Metis.”

Matthew Harrison is Senior Manager of Communication Stakeholder, Indigenous and Rural Relations, and was involved in coordinating the estimate.

Speaking to council, he feels part of the issue lies in the lack of homeless accommodations in these communities.

“To my knowledge, there are no shelters in the rural hamlets. So, on a night like tonight or last night, you would deal with people who would ask to sleep on someone’s couch or bunk in with another family.”

With the motion approved, Mayor Don Scott is expected to write a letter inviting ministries in the Federal and Provincial governments to see the conditions for themselves.

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