Homeless women face more struggles than men

Homeless women with addictions say there are fewer safe places for them to sleep in Edmonton compared to their male counterparts.

Homeless women with addictions say there are fewer safe places for them to sleep in Edmonton compared to their male counterparts.

The city conducted its ninth homeless count on Tuesday.

The last homeless count in 2008 found 3,079 people were without a home in Edmonton, with 23 per cent of those being women.

Holly Hutton, an outreach worker with Hope Mission said there are many options for homeless men but few for women, and even fewer for those who are addicts.

The downtown shelter provides 70 sleeping mats for women every night, and will accept women "under the influence" if they are quiet and don't cause problems.

But it doesn't have the room to offer a separate area for homeless women with addictions —something Cheryl, a homeless woman,  finds incredibly hard.

"I asked three different places to help me find a place," said Cheryl, who has been living on Edmonton's streets for years. She said that as an addict there's nowhere safe for her to sleep at night.

"The really sad part is we only have one shelter for women here. There are nine shelters for men," she said.

Hutton said homeless women need just as much resources as homeless men.

"Honestly, what don't they need? They need everything," Hutton said. "They need all the same things that the men have. They need housing, they need addiction recovery ... there just needs to be more all around."

End homelessness by 2019

The number of homeless in Edmonton has been steadily growing, even as the city stands by its pledge to eliminate the problem.

Edmonton has tasked the agency Homeward Trust with ending homelessness in Edmonton by 2019.

Since the campaign to end homelessness, called Housing First, began in April 2009, more than 900 people have been housed.

Susan Magee, director of Homeward Trust said  85 per cent of those people are still in their homes.

The results of Tuesday's count will be announced in early November.