Calgary appears to be winning the fight against homelessness.
The Calgary Homeless Foundation has released preliminary results of its latest point-in-time homelessness count and it shows the number of homeless people in the city has declined.
The report indicates Calgary is home to 3,222 people living on the streets or in shelters. That’s nearly an 11 per cent decrease from 2008, when the city launched its plan to end homelessness. Per capita the percentage of homeless is down 26 per cent.
The foundation said on Tuesday more than 8,000 people in Calgary have been housed since 2008.
“We’ve done what no other urban city has done and that is actually turn that around to a downward number,” said Diana Krecsy, President and CEO of the Calgary Homeless Foundation.
Despite the decline, Calgary still has the largest number of homeless in Alberta. The city accounts for 60 per cent of the total homeless population in the province.
Krecsy admits the economic downturn may have contributed to the dip in homelessness.
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“The working poor, who were living in shelters, when they had no job they moved to another province and are likely in another shelter,” she said Tuesday.
Rent has also gone down as the vacancy rate in Calgary has increased and that has prevented people from falling into homelessness.
“We’re headed in the right direction, we’re doing great work in this city, but we’ve got to keep it going. If we don’t change things … and build more affordable housing, that number can change very quickly.”
The count was done by over 100 volunteers and does not include data from Alberta Health Services (AHS) or observational data.
The final report will be released in early 2017.