A month after the Alberta government announced a new navigation centre to help encampment residents, the centre is being called a success.
“The services, the staff is amazing, especially the daytime staff. They’re amazing,” client Alicia Prissa told CTV News Edmonton.
The hub provides meals, showers, a safe place to sleep, and connects the homeless with health care, addictions treatment, income, and housing support.
The centre is located in a Hope Mission facility in Edmonton.
“It’s all in one place so usually with folks that are coming in accessing supports, they need multiple of those services in order to access the other,” said Tim Pasma of Hope Mission.
“The more barriers we put in place for people to access supports, the longer they just stay entrenched in homelessness, chronic homelessness, in encampments or in shelters for a longer period of time.”
So far nearly 300 people have come through the facility, with more than 70 being connected to housing programs, and another 130 accessing shelter, transitional, or supportive housing.
Staff also helped 55 people access mental health and addictions services.
Pasma says they’re following up with clients at least once a month.
“Just to find out, do they have the supports they need, how are they doing in their new space, and is there anything we can do to support them further.”
The province says the centre was the missing link in providing services to the homeless community.
“I think we have to be very clear when it comes to the challenges that we’re seeing in encampments it’s not just housing, which is why we want to make sure that we’re providing all sorts of services for different individuals so that we can get them into housing and they can end up in a position where they can have success,” said Jason Nixon, minister of seniors, community, and social services.
Nixon says the approach is working so well, the province plans to use it in other urban centres.
“We’ll use this as a permanent mechanism for how we approach homelessness and encampments in the city of Edmonton going forward, and likely in the city of Calgary and elsewhere in the province.”
Pasma says the centre is a great start, but there’s more work to be done.
“I wouldn’t say this is the only permanent solution.”
“We also know we need the range of medium and long term options available for people as well. So that’s something we still need to continue to develop. We also understand we need to continue to develop shelter spaces to be appropriate for everybody’s needs.”
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