The County of Grande Prairie Family and Community Support Services is hoping to conduct their third Rural Homeless Estimation in 2023. Acting Director Melodie McCracken says that if the project is approved by the Rural Development Network then the county along with their community partners will hold a 30-day survey that will look at the trends and factors affecting people’s housing stability, while also looking at what their risk factors might be and the rate of homelessness. In the past basic needs issues was a trend that the survey showed.
“Struggling with basic needs are things like food security, being able to pay their rent, do they have enough income, are they maybe living in overcrowded housing,” McCracken says. “What we are seeing at this time, and we will have to get responses from the survey to get a better understanding, – one of the things we are speculating is how if anyway has the pandemic impacted our current financial position for individuals and community members? – Because we are seeing an increased need around food security and people accessing foodbanks, and requests for financial support, is that going to be impacting people’s ability to pay their bills, and do they have to choose between putting food on the table or paying for their housing costs?”
The county is working on creating a task force with its rural partners. The results from the survey will not only help the county and community put together efforts and strategies when it comes to dealing with homelessness but it will also help the task force establish actionable outcomes to work towards.
The two previous Rural Homeless Estimations were held in 2018 and 2020. In the last survey 42 out of 52 people identified themselves as homeless or housing insecure. In both 2018 and 2020 the county along with the Towns of Beaverlodge, Wembley, Sexsmith, and the Hamlet of Hythe looked at what homelessness looks like in the region. The project is supported by grant funding from the Rural Development Network.
The county is supposed to hear later this month if they have been approved for the project.