As part of an ongoing effort to better understand and find a solution to the problem of homelessness in the region, a survey was conducted in Fort McMurray in October 2010 to identify individuals without a permanent residence. That survey became the first of an ongoing analysis of Wood Buffalo's homeless population.
2014 Point in Time Homeless Count
In the 2014 survey, 294 Individuals identified themselves as being without permanent residence. This represented a 10-per-cent decrease in the Municipality’s homeless population since 2012.
Other highlights from the report were:
- 207 Individuals surveyed in the Street Count.
- 87 Individuals surveyed in the Facilities Count.
- 71 per cent Identified as male.
- 26 per cent Identified as female.
- A majority of individuals were in the age group of 31 - 54 years.
- 42 per cent Self-identified / observed as Caucasian.
- 37 per cent Self-identified / observed as Aboriginal / Metis.
- 17 Individuals responded that they had children under the age of 16 staying with them that night. Of those 17, only one was sleeping rough (in a vacant building).
- 11 Individuals have served in the Canadian Forces.
Progress Report on 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness
Three years since the launch of the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness in 2010, this report documented the progress achieved in implementing the goals and actions prescribed in the plan and demonstrates how our community has progressed toward ending homelessness through commitment, investment and collective action.
Progress made in the preceding three years included:
- Using education and awareness as a tool to successfully engage stakeholders from the public, private and social profit sectors in the implementation of Heading Home.
- Developing closer collaboration and integration among homeless service providers to facilitate implementation of the Housing First strategy.
- Streamlining the homeless serving system to enable 549 individuals to make a quick transition from homelessness to permanent housing and supportive services.
During the three year period from March 2010 to March 2013, Housing First service providers successfully transitioned 549 homeless individuals to permanent housing.
Between October 2008 and October 2010, the extent of homelessness in Wood Buffalo reduced by about 223 people, which translates into a 40.6 per cent reduction in homelessness. It is important to consider the results of the 2012 Housing Needs Count within the context of the Housing First program and other initiatives that provide linkages to permanent housing, support services to retain housing, and coordination of community-based resources for the homeless. It is only within the context of such community-based collaborative efforts that an explanation can be provided for this reduction in homelessness.
2012 Housing Needs Count
During the 2012 homelessness survey in October of that year, 326 people identified themselves as being homeless in Wood Buffalo. This is essentially unchanged from 2010, and remains 41 per cent below levels experienced in 2008. This statistic highlights progress made in implementing the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness.
Key Findings The 2012 Housing Needs Count established the following additional information:
- Males represented 64 per cent of identified individuals; Females represented 25.8 per cent of identified individuals; 10.1 per cent respondents did not report their gender.
- 34 per cent of individuals reported they had lived in Wood Buffalo for less than six months; a five per cent increase from 2010.
- 11 per cent of individuals have been homeless in Wood Buffalo between six months and two years.
- The majority of individuals (51 per cent) surveyed were within the 31- to 54-year age range.
- 32.8 per cent of individuals surveyed were observed as being Aboriginal reflecting a slight decrease of 2.2 per cent from 2010.
- 31.6 per cent of individuals surveyed were observed as being Caucasian reflecting a 13.4 per cent increase from 2010.
2010 Housing Needs Count
The 2010 survey found 319 individuals who identified themselves as being without a permanent residence, a significant 41.9-per-cent decline from October 2008 when the count identified 549 individuals.
There is keen interest in the 2010 count since it is the first one since the Municipality officially adopted Heading Home: The Right Thing to Do, the 10-year plan to end homelessness by emphasizing “housing first.” (You can download and read the plan below.) The “housing first” approach stresses that once homeless people have stable housing, then other issues that may have contributed to their homelessness or other problems can then be addressed, with the likelihood of greater success. This "housing first" philosophy is one of the contributing factors in the decrease in homelessness.
Since initiating the first Housing Needs Count, there has been a concerted effort to duplicate the methodology used each year in order to ensure consistency in comparing the results from one count to the next.
Recognizing that seeking out solutions to homelessness in our community would take a full community effort, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo is committed to leading such a community-based initiative. The first step in this process was the formation of the Homelessness Initiatives Steering Committee whose first task was to assist in the development of the Community Plan on Homelessness and Affordable Housing in 2000. The group came together again to complete an update in 2004 and seeing the value of working together has continued to meet and to share information and resources to seek out solutions to homelessness in our community. The Plan identifies gaps in the social housing infrastructure of our community and incorporates ideas for solutions and potential partners.
The Homelessness Initiatives Strategic Committee:
- United Way
- Alberta Health Services
- Wood Buffalo Housing & Development Corp
- Aboriginal representative
- Community at large
- Industry representative
- RMWB Management
- Service Canada
- The Ministry of Human Services
The provincial and federal governments have also responded to the needs of homeless individuals and families in our community by providing funding through a partnership with the Municipality. The Municipality disburses these funds to local agencies for the purpose of developing projects that address gaps identified in the Community Plan. When funds come available the Municipality advertises a call for proposals and holds information sessions for interested applicants to learn more about the priorities identified in the Community Plan and how to apply for funding.
The Community Plan on Homelessness
The Community Plan on Homelessness is a partnership with municipal, provincial and federal governments to increase services to the homeless and near homeless individuals in our community. The Municipality assists agencies in coordinating services identified as gaps in the community plan, and by advocating for ongoing operational dollars. Funding for the plan is allocated to agencies on an annual basis.
DownloadsAnnual Service Delivery Plan 2009
Fort McMurray Housing Needs Count 2008
Community Plan on Homelessness 2007-2010
Youth Housing Needs Report 2007
Executive Summary on Youth Homelessness 2007
Community Plan on Homelessness (CPH) Annual Report 2005-2006
Housing Needs Survey Analysis, 2006
Report on Housing Needs in Fort McMurray, 2006
Community Plan on Homelessness, 2004
Housing Needs Count, 2004
Housing Needs Count, 2003
Homelessness Brochure, November 2003
Homelessness Newsletter, April 2003
Community Plan on Homelessness, 2000-2003
Community Plan on Homelessness (CPH) Annual Report, 2002
Community Plan on Homelessness (CPH) Annual Report, 2001