A new national report says Calgary has the third-highest homeless shelter population in the country, despite the city's prosperity.
The report,released Tuesday by the Calgary-based Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership, says the number of homeless people inCalgary has grown by 740 per cent since 1994.
"We're seeing some of the biggest extremes in Canada happening right here," said Gordon Laird, the report's author.
Lairdplaces the blame on the provincial government.
"The provincial government throughout the 1990s basically made it clear they didn't like poor people," said Laird.
Laird says with more and more people unable to afford housing, the government's response was to "warehouse" people in emergency shelters.
Grant Neufeld, co-ordinator of the Calgary Housing Action Initiative, agrees the government has focused too much on shelters.
"We're basically throwing money away by putting in these institutional responses rather than actually gettingpeople into homes," said Neufeld.
Laird saysmoney would be better spent by raising the minimum wage in Alberta and providingrent subsidies so working people don't need to live in shelters.
According to the report, homelessness is costing Canadians between $4.5 billion and $6 billiona year.
One in seven emergency shelter users in Canada is a child, and almost one-thirdare between 16 and 24 years old, according to the report.
The report calls for a new national strategy on homelessness and affordable housing.