Conference brings practitioners, academia, and community together to end homelessness

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017 3:20pm


By Windspeaker Staff
with files from Jeremy Harpe,

While Alberta has made progress on the issue of homelessness, there is still much to learn and to discuss. Susan McGee of Homeless Connect spoke to Jeremy Harpe of CFWE-FM about the 7 cities Conference on Housing First and Homelessness, which began today and runs to June 9 in Edmonton.

The 7 major cities in Alberta have collaborated to do the best possible work to reduce homelessness since 2000, McGee said.

“We are very fortunate to have a provincial commitment to end homelessness, and, locally, we try to do our best work,” she said, but “we also know that there are innovations in our communities that we can learn from.” The conference pulls together presentations from various projects from different communities allowing practitioners hear first-hand what can be done better.

This year’s conference theme is Building a Better Tomorrow by Building Resiliency Today.

McGee said there’s innovation, new things that can be developed.

“Learning is just critical and an evidenced-base approaches are just fundamental to plans to end homelessness.”

Currently, there are about 5,000 in the seven cities that remain homeless, a number reached by last homeless count.

“One of the aspects of doing a homeless count is it also indicates some of the areas that we need to do more work, and we are very much focused on specific efforts with those living rough—street homeless, the unsheltered homeless, if you will.

“And we also know that we can’t end homelessness with a program,” McGee said, adding, it’s important to coordinate crisis services that provide immediate support to individuals, and making sure people have a housing orientation.

Systems level coordination is really critical in what many are referring as ‘functional zero’, to ensure that homelessness is ‘rare, brief and non-recurring.’

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