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City Addressing Violence Through Outreach to Homeless

November 23, 2011

Funding to Boyle Street Community Services part of Violence Reduction Action Plan

The City of Edmonton is providing $360,000 to Boyle Street Community Services to expand outreach to homeless with intensive needs. The funding will provide for coordinated outreach to individuals who because of mental illness or substance abuse are especially marginalized from society and susceptible to being victims or perpetrators of crime.

Over half of the people who were involved in homicides this year sought assistance from homeless agencies. As a result, the City identified expanded outreach to homeless as one of the key initiatives to be undertaken as part of the Violence Reduction Action Plan. The plan, announced in August, sets out the steps the City and REACH Edmonton will take to help address the conditions that create violence and lead to homicide.

 “Although the causes of violence are complex and will take time to address, our city will become safer when we better meet the needs of those facing challenges,” said Mayor Stephen Mandel. “Expanding our support for homeless Edmontonians, working to get them off the street, is a critical step in building community safety.”

The funding will enhance Boyle Street’s outreach, providing more resources to assist individuals who are surviving on the street, appear in distress and may be mentally ill, drug-dependent or otherwise economically and socially disadvantaged. Outreach workers will engage and build trust with these individuals to address emergency needs and connect them to supports and services.

“Our relationship with the City has always been very positive and we are really pleased that they are supporting us in our outreach activities,” said Boyle Street Community Services Executive Director Julian Daly. “Street outreach makes a difference because it connects vulnerable people to critical services and helps stabilize people who are on the street or are homeless, reducing the likelihood that they will become victims of crime.”

The funding announcement builds on a report by the Edmonton Homeless Commission that points to gaps in the existing system for people with intensive needs, particularly a lack of a variety of housing options and consistency of support services. Homeless people with intensive needs are frequently admitted to hospital emergency rooms. Readily accessible health care, attached to housing, is essential in ensuring they remain successfully housed. The report is part of the next stage of Edmonton’s Plan to End Homelessness that focuses on housing people with intensive needs.

“Connecting with individuals who will be hardest to house is a good first step. Our report looks at what strategies are needed for the next step: getting them into their own home and giving them the significant support to stay in that home,” said Anne Smith, Chair of the Edmonton Homeless Commission. “Housing Edmonton’s homeless rather than continuing to respond to their critical situations will not only save taxpayer’s dollars, but will translate into less crime, victimization and social disorder.”

“Our 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness has already seen over 1500 people housed. As this report indicates, we now need to look at the hardest to house, the most vulnerable of our homeless,” said Mandel. “I look forward to working with the Edmonton Homeless Commission, community partners and other levels of government to advance solutions.”

For more information:

Jacqualine Ladouceur

Title Senior Communications Advisor
Telephone

780-442-6966
780-868-2090 (cell)

Lance Beswick

Boyle Street Community Services

Title Communications Manager
Telephone

780-424-4106, Ext. 219
780-884-1137 (cell)