We live in a wealthy province, but unfortunately the number of people living in poverty in Alberta is growing. More than 123,000 people live in poverty in the Capital Region and more than 41,000 are children. Those who are poor are getting poorer, according to the Social Planning Council. Some people, even those in jobs, find that their dollars just don’t spread far enough – the cost of living is too high. So they may be able to afford the rent, but they can’t pull together a damage deposit and the cost of utilities’ hook-ups.
“Why don’t they just get a job?”
‘No job no home. No home no job’ It’s a vicious cycle. Without a permanent address it’s really hard to find a job. It’s difficult to make yourself look presentable for an interview. There’s no address to put on the application form. And accessing training or skills development programs can be a very complicated process.
Lack of affordable housing
Much has been done in the last few years to address the serious lack of affordable housing in Edmonton. But the wait lists are still long. And for larger families there are few suitable units.
Mental health and addictions
About 40 years ago, a movement began to take psychiatric patients out of hospitals and find care for them in the community. In Alberta, the idea took off in the early 1990’s. The problem was, though, that the necessary community-based mental health service providers weren’t in place. And there wasn’t enough funding for programs. That means that there are more people suffering from mental illnesses living on our streets. Many also suffer from addiction.
“Some people choose to be homeless”
Nobody’s life goal is to be homeless. Some people who are homeless may prefer to sleep rough than to go into a shelter. But nobody enjoys being homeless. Being homeless is not about living – it’s purely about surviving.