It’s an unfortunate side effect of Alberta’s red hot economy. With the vacancy rate near the zero mark, and soaring house prices, the homeless count is rising in Edmonton with few short term solutions in sight.
Hundreds wait for a warm meal and a brief respite from the cold at the Bissell Centre. However, it’s a line that gets longer by the day.
A new report indicates there are 2,600 homeless people in our city; that’s up 19% from 2004. More than half are adults, ranging from 31 to 54 years old. When it comes to race, 47% are Caucasian, and 38% are Aboriginal.
Unfortunate side effect? I think not, its due to the Ralph Revolution and a lack of planning for boom times. Just like the lack of workers is a lack of planning. Thanks to King Ralph's automatic pilot government.
Alberta’s growing homeless crisis is not the result of its overheated economy, but of deliberate government decisions in the 1990s to cut affordable housing initiatives, says one of Canada’s leading experts on homelessness.
"In 1993, the province was spending $287 million annually on housing-related initiatives," said Michael Shapcott, co-chair of Canada’s National Housing and Homelessness Network.
By 1999, that was cut almost in half, he said. Even today, it is spending only slightly more than $280 million on housing — still less than 1993 levels. "If you are looking for culprits behind the province’s housing crisis, one of the culprits is definitely the provincial government. It has abandoned its responsibilities in funding," said Shapcott, one of the speakers at a three-day housing conference in Edmonton this week.
This is an issue none of the men who would replace Ralph have addressed in any serious fashion. It is a crisis, especially this week with record low tempratures and people dying.
But was it an issue in Wednesdays debate? Nope. Earlier in the campaign Dinning announced he would spend $20 million on affordable housing. Just so happens that is exactly the amount the NDP/Liberal Federal Budget of 2005 earmarked for affordable housing in Alberta. So much for Firewall Alberta. The PC's are willing to spend Fed money on housing, money that is supposed to be spent on housing, but they ain't coughing up any of their own.