A new plan to end homelessness in Grande Prairie by 2019 is underway. It includes building more affordable and supportive housing and setting up a rent bank that can provide low interest loans to people at risk of becoming homeless, and finding better support for Aboriginal people.
 
Homeless Initiatives Supervisor Katherine Sheppard says the key will be working on helping people not fall into homelessness in the first place, and the first step is to get people talking.
 
“Become educated on what a person might be experiencing when you walk down to the bank and you see them standing outside asking for money. Becoming aware that there’s resources in our community so that you could speak to them and say, ‘Do you realize that tonight, down at the Church of Christ, because it’s Saturday, there’s a meal happening?'”
 
Another major facet of the plan is as collaborating with partners like RCMP and the province. That also means helping landlords understand the need for interim housing units.
 
“The Housing First approach is a good model in the fact that they have case managers and support workers that will come in and support them in their homes. We need to build capacity with the province of Alberta and work with individuals to either connect them to an existing rent subsidy or something that supplements that rental amount.”
 
Sheppard estimates there are around 360 homeless people in Grande Prairie, based on who accesses their services.