Over five dozen people are homeless in Leduc County. After conducting a study over the past four months, Leduc County Family and Community Support workers found 64 people were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
“We weren’t surprised by those numbers,” said Carl Liepert, County Connect Support Worker and Seniors Services Coordinator. “I think it’s going to be eye-opening for some people.”
Leduc County collected data from more than 20 local service providers which assist homeless individuals or families in October. This data showed eight individuals were unsheltered, twenty-five were accessing short-term shelter and ten others were at risk of becoming homeless.
“People don’t realize that people living rurally can be homeless,” said Liepert. “There’s so many issues behind why people become homeless.”
While some people are homeless because of addictions, others are fleeing abusive relationships and have nowhere to go while others have lost their homes after they’ve lost their jobs. “Job security is just such a big issue,” said Liepert. “It could happen to you, to me, to anyone.”
With the economic downturn currently facing Albertans, Liepert anticipates they will see more people at risk of losing their homes over the next few months. “I have no doubt we will see an impact,” she said. “There may be a delayed effect as workers who have been laid off survive on what they have until it runs out.”
The homeless estimate, which will be conducted annually each fall, is part of the larger County Connect program aimed at addressing rural homelessness in Leduc County. With the estimate, Liepert said, Leduc County can better connect individuals with existing resources in the community and develop new resources if required.
Anyone needing help is asked to call 211. While that is an Edmonton-based information number, Liepert said, it’s probably the best way for people to get information on services and referrals to where they need to go to get help based on their unique situations. “It’s so important people realize addressing homelessness is a team effort. This one project is not going to fix everything.”
The study was done after the federal government, though the Alberta Rural Development Network awarded Leduc County FCSS with a $119,500 grant in October. The money is not only being used for the study, but also to support individuals who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless and to educate the public about the situation.
“Hopefully, when people realize how many homeless people we have out there and how it really could happen to anyone, the stigma attached to homelessness will be removed,” said Liepert.