Edmonton councillor calls for social housing across 'entire' city
'This is something we have to work on together,' says Coun. Andrew Knack
Some may think it's never going to happen.
Ask your average Edmontonian about the city's 10-year-plan to end homelessness, and you'll likely get some eyes rolling or heads shaking.
But the goal has its share of crusaders and Coun. Andrew Knack is one of them.
- Edmonton can 'absolutely' end chronic homelessness, mayor says
- Edmonton can end homelessness by 2022, new report says
- Iveson asks Liberals to move money faster to deal with social housing backlog
Knack said it's going to take collaboration and consultation.
Knack was responding to a "social forecast" presented to city council this week, showing there were 1,700 homeless people in Edmonton in 2016, with 70 per cent of them considered chronically homeless.
He said he believes permanent supportive housing needs to be built in neighbourhoods across the city and that residents must understand why that is necessary.
That means the perceived NIMBY effect — the "not in my backyard" mentality — has to go, he said.
- Terwillegar residents speak out against proposed housing project
- Affordable housing development plan near Edmonton school prompts traffic safety concerns
"We're not going to build 500 units [in] one building where we house everyone who is chronically homeless," he argued. "It's likely to be much smaller buildings, 30 to 40 people per space, which means every community is going to need to provide homes."
"Look at each project and make sure that we've done our due diligence as a city," she said. "I think we see better lives for Edmontonians when we have those [affordable housing], but I think we also have to be judicious in how we approve projects."
Rob Smyth, deputy city manager for citizen services, presented the social forecast — a first for city administration.
The forecast, based on a survey by the Edmonton Community Foundation, shows nearly 11 per cent of Edmontonians in 2016 were considered low-income earners. One-third of single-parent families lived in poverty.
Smyth said the social forecast is a guideline for council to make decisions, and is directly connected with the economic outlook.
No policy decisions have been made on where to put new housing, but Smyth said his department is working on a plan for council to consider in the second quarter of 2018.
"The whole continuum of housing needs to be looked at," he said.
Money for affordable and permanent supportive housing comes from provincial and federal governments.The city's role is to free up land where social housing can be built, said Knack.
The social forecast also showed the crime severity index has been going up since 2013.
While violent crime, including homicides, sexual assault and robberies, dropped in 2016 from the year before, domestic violence increased over the same period.
Racism cited as a problem
More than 50 per cent of survey respondents said racism is a problem in Edmonton. But over half of respondents said they feel connected to their community — a trend that has been increasing since 2013.
The immigrant community has also expanded. Over 30 per cent of people living in Edmonton come from another country.
Edmonton is one of the most linguistically diverse cities in Canada," the forecast said. Tagalog, Punjabi and Arabic are among the fastest growing languages in the city.
The social forecast also said more than half of LGBTQ youth don't feel safe at school.