The number of homeless people living in Grande Prairie has dropped over the past two years. A count done the night of October 19th registered a total of 127 people, down from 189 in 2014.
The decline is somewhat surprising due to the city’s population growth and the rise in the unemployment rate. The number of people living in the city increased 24.5 per cent from 2011 to 2015, and the unemployment rate in western Alberta has risen from 4.8 per cent in 2014 to 5.6 per cent in October.
This year’s count was also had a much wider scope, and included people in transitional housing, treatment facilities, and corrections out of town. 50 per cent of the people considered homeless fell into those categories, along with couch surfers.
Another 40 per cent were in emergency shelters, and nine per cent were sleeping on the street or in vehicles. 61 per identified as male and 37 per cent female, while 13 per cent were under the age of 18. More than 32 per cent were Indigenous, while they make up less than 10 per cent of the general population. Three were RCMP or military veterans.
Province-wide homeless numbers are also down. The point-in-time count done in seven cities saw the number drop 19.2 per cent. Since 2008, the population has dropped 31 per cent.