Homelessness: No One Left Behind

Our city will not continue to offer its citizens a good quality of life, that attracts people and investment, if we do not address homelessness and the other extreme forms of poverty afflicting many Edmontonians. Right now we lack the supportive housing and community-based mental health interventions of other cities of our size. We are also getting nowhere by beating up other orders of government and talking about who should do what.

  • On any given night, it is estimated that 800 Edmontonians sleep without shelter. 
  • Over 2500 Edmontonians experience chronic homelessness, up almost 1000 from 2020. 
  • The numbers are large but not insurmountable and we will not leave people behind.

If we truly believe this is a priority - we need to put our money where our mouths are - and make sustained investments in the permanent solutions to these challenges. Michael Oshry’s plan will see the City taking the lead in making the necessary investments to end chronic homelessness:

200 new supportive housing units per year for next 4 years 

  • If we’re serious about ending homelessness, we need to start with housing. As Mayor, Michael Oshry will prioritize investment in social infrastructure to address homelessness, through predictable and regular capital budget planning, including making the investments necessary to start 200 units of supportive housing every year for the next four years
  • This substantial investment in supportive housing will be a game-changer in Edmonton. Michael Oshry believes that Edmonton can take the lead, with investment from other orders of government following investment by ours.
  • In addition to investing in necessary supportive housing, Michael Oshry’s Infrastructure Plan will also fund $50 million in land acquisition for supportive housing and provide $70 million in capital financing to HomeEd, the City of Edmonton’s below market affordable housing provider. 

Converting buses into mobile washrooms and showers

  • Edmonton is lacking in 24/7 public washrooms, particularly in the core where the need is highest. Limited or no access to a public washroom is a significant challenge for our vulnerable populations, as is lack of access to showers.
  • Within his first month, Michael Oshry will move to retrofit old City buses with washrooms and showers. The buses will serve as public and mobile washrooms/showers for anyone who needs them.
  • Making the washrooms and showers mobile will alleviate much of the red tape and delays that come with establishing a permanent facility.
  • These new mobile washrooms will be accessible at all hours, staffed and regularly cleaned, and will be stocked with feminine hygiene products in keeping with other City facilities.

Turbocharged assertive mobile outreach teams

  • Michael Oshry will work with community partners, the Edmonton Police Service, and other agencies to expand the Neighbourhood Empowerment Team (NET) program and the Edmonton Police Service’s Human-centred Engagement Liaison Partnership (HELP) Units.
  • NET and HELP link police officers, social workers, and agencies directly with community groups and businesses to provide more on street presence and a straighter line to support for vulnerable people.
  • These programs are effective homegrown strategies that will be turbocharged. This plan will provide the City with around-the-clock teams who pull out all the stops to ensure rough sleepers can overcome any and all barriers they face to resolving their homelessness.
  • Significant investment in the NET and HELP programs will also allow the city to provide outreach services to homeless camps and transition people living there to long term, sustainable solutions like supportive housing.

Partner with the private sector

  • They want to help so we need to leverage their expertise and capital

Social procurement to boost employment for people experiencing poverty

  • A key part of Michael Oshry’s social procurement policy is hiring people with barriers to employment. This is part of Indigenous economic reconciliation, and also helps prevent and alleviate many social problems, including poverty and homelessness.
  • We will require employers bidding for City contracts to hire a certain proportion of people with barriers to employment. Hiring people with barriers to employment will also help boost our available workforce.

Free play for all - free recreation for low-income families

  • There’s absolutely no reason families should have to choose between putting food on the table or giving their children access to the same healthy after school activities other kids enjoy.
  • Michael Oshry’s Free Play for All policy will provide free after-school care/programming that takes strain off of families with limited income and allows parents to work as needed.
  • It will use existing city resources to provide free access to City recreation centres after school, free programming, and free transportation for the 100 highest-need schools in our city.

MICHAEL OSHRY QUOTE

“Homelessness is a moral issue and an economic issue. We can’t wait for other orders of government to take the lead. Edmonton can and must be a leader in ending homelessness. My plan for addressing chronic homelessness is ambitious but achievable. I firmly believe that if Edmonton takes the lead in investing in the necessary long-term solutions to homelessness, other governments will soon follow. Working with social agencies and businesses in our city we can end homelessness within a generation.”