As a response to high-risk encampments, Alberta’s government is providing targeted help to Edmonton’s most vulnerable through the new navigation and support centre that opened on Jan. 17. Since opening, 145 people have accessed the centre and more than 500 referrals and direct connections have been made to available services. Staff at the centre continue to provide Indigenous cultural supports and liaisons and to connect people to shelter, housing and health services, and help individuals obtain valid Alberta identification.
“Encampments are not the answer to the homelessness issues in Edmonton or anywhere else, and it’s very encouraging to see these positive results coming out of the navigation and support centre already. Having all of these services available under one roof is extremely valuable, as people are beginning to connect to services that some didn’t even know were available to them.”
“Alberta’s government will do whatever it takes to eliminate the dangerous gang activity that targets our most vulnerable living in encampments. Our government will not stand by as communities are torn apart by addiction, and I am grateful to see that vulnerable people are accepting care at the navigation and support centre and that our streets are becoming safer. As we continue to provide these community supports and clean up our streets, I know the message is clear to gang members – you are not welcome here."
One major benefit to the government’s approach and the establishment of the navigation and support centre is that each person accessing the centre can be connected or referred to several different types of supports and services, all in one place.
Of the more than 500 connections made with community services:
- More than 55 people have been connected to housing programs, including affordable housing and rental supplements
- More than 80 people have been connected to emergency shelter spaces, transitional and supportive housing
- Service Alberta has issued more than 60 identification cards
- More than 60 people have been connected with employment and financial services.
Medical, mental health and addiction supports are also readily available to support recovery from the deadly disease of addiction:
- More than 50 people have been referred for health supports
- About 40 people have been connected to mental health and addiction services, including about 10 people who have started opioid agonist therapy (OAT).
“I’m pleased to know Albertans facing homelessness and suffering from the deadly disease of addiction are getting connected to treatment and other services through this navigation and support centre. Rather than sleeping in tents often in gang-run drug camps, these individuals are getting the care and help they need.”
The navigation centre is open for intake Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., in line with the Edmonton Police Service encampment removals. Services and staff are available 24-7 for individuals registered with and using the centre.
“We have made noticeable progress toward a long-term solution that both helps the vulnerable and holds the gangs and drug dealers preying on them accountable. Because we are able to connect individuals to wrap-around supports immediately, there are fewer encampments across the city, leaving less opportunity for criminals to target those struggling with mental health, addiction and trauma. Early indications are that this partnership-based approach works and is an integral part of how we make our city safer for all Edmontonians.”
"This centre has not only helped Edmonton’s most vulnerable, it is an important step to creating a safe and vibrant downtown for all. The Downtown Recovery Coalition is pleased to see Alberta’s government taking concrete action that protects our communities, streets and businesses.”
Free transportation is being provided by the City of Edmonton to help individuals removed from encampments access the centre and other services.
The centre will be evaluated after 30 days to gauge the effectiveness of the program and its services.
- The provincial government’s Edmonton Public Safety Cabinet Committee (EPSCC) has been working closely with partners to develop this response to encampments. The EPSCC includes:
- City of Edmonton
- Edmonton Police Service
- Edmonton Fire Rescue Services
- Grand Chief Cody Thomas from the Confederacy of Treaty 6 First Nations
- Alberta Health Services
- Provincially funded shelter operators in Edmonton include:
- E4C (Women’s Emergency Accommodation Centre)
- Enoch Cree Nation
- Elizabeth Fry Society
- Hope Mission
- The Mustard Seed
- NiGiNan Housing Ventures
- Operation Friendship Seniors Society
- The Salvation Army
- Urban Manor
- New supports for vulnerable people in Edmonton (Jan. 17, 2024)