The Alberta Secretariat for Action on Homelessness has created a Plan for Alberta, which articulates a new approach to eliminating homelessness by 2019. The Secretariat, tasked with developing a plan to end homelessness in Alberta, consulted with community-based services, municipal and city governments and programs in the seven major centres (Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge, Red Deer, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie and Medicine Hat) to learn about their experiences and challenges with homelessness. The Secretariat identify Alberta’s challenges and barriers, a vision with principles, and a plan which will help guide the process to stay on track and be affordable. The approach is a shift in the existing management approach of homelessness which does not eradicate it but rather supports people in and out of homelessness. The Plan recognizes and supports community-led action on homelessness, and aims to coordinate province-wide efforts. The Plan sets out a series of immediate, shorter-term and longer-term priorities/actions and 17 strategies within these priorities to address the challenges and barriers. The immediate strategies include information management, data collection standards, and a research approach. Supporting more housing options remains an immediate priority along with making government programs and services more easily accessible to Albertans. The overall intent of the strategies is to shift the work of homeless-serving agencies, communities and governments away from simply managing homelessness, and towards ending homelessness through a housing first philosophy. Under this housing first philosophy, investments are focused on three key areas - Rapid re-housing of homeless Albertans, moving them from streets and shelters into permanent housing; Providing client-centered supports to re-housed clients, helping them; obtain the assistance they need to restore their stability and maintain their housing; and Preventing homelessness through emergency assistance and by providing adequate and accessible government programs and services to Albertans. The Plan for Alberta puts an emphasis on self-reliance. It also provides for a substantially lower-cost, long-term solution versus the status quo. Mention was made at the end of the report that work will be undertaken to test the validity of assumptions made.
Homelessness-Related Research Capacities in Alberta: A Comprehensive Environmental Scan, prepared by Dr. Katharina Kovacs Burns, MSc, MHSA, PhD and Dr. Solina Richter, PhD, RN for The Alberta Homelessness Research Consortium (2010)