Today was the Annual Report on Ending Homelessness here in Grande Prairie.
Katherine Schmidt, the Homeless Initiatives Supervisor for the City of Grande Prairie with Community Social Development, says the number of homeless people is decreasing.
“We are doing things like a point and time count every two years and we saw a 23 per cent reduction in the number of people that we counted out on the streets and in shelters in 2016 compared to two years ago,” said Schmidt, “we also canvassed a much larger area and we still saw that the numbers on that count went down.”
Schmidt said she considers their Housing First Program to be a large factor in the falling numbers as the program is doing a great job finding and helping those in need maintain and keep housing.
She also said that they are on track for their five-year plan, which ends in 2019, and have not had to make any adjustments.
“Often times I get people asking me, ‘so at the end of the five years how are you going to know whether or not you’ve done what said you were going to do?'” said Schmidt, “and our plan is really to have a system of care in place so that no one falls into homelessness and has to stay homeless for more than three weeks before we move them into some support services.”
Schmidt says the second report card is a good period to sit back and reflect on if what they are doing is working and what they are missing.
They are assembling a Living Experience Committee as part of these efforts.
“That is going to be made up of people that have had lived experience with being homeless. So, that we can truly see from the other side of things and hear voices from people with the lived experience to get their expertise and input into what we need to do moving forward to make sure that we’re going to meet our envelop,” said Schmidt.