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The Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues is calling for more funding to address homelessness in EdmontonSEDI News

The Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues (EFCL) sent out an open letter Thursday, calling for increased services and shelters for the growing number of Edmontonians experiencing homelessness.

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EFCL claims there are inadequate services in Edmonton for the non-housing community, including supportive housing, addictions treatment, and trauma and mental health services.

These gaps put community members at risk, EFCL says, especially as cold weather creates greater risks for those living outside.

Addressed to provincial and municipal officials, the letter also outlines the disparity between the number of shelter spaces available in Calgary and Edmonton, with Calgary having 1,758 permanently funded shelter spaces – 1,136 more than Edmonton.

“Right now, where we stand is that we’ve had a significant increase in those unhoused community members and especially people living in encampments,” said Susan McGee, CEO of Homeward Trust Edmonton. “So the disparity between the number of shelters in Calgary and Edmonton is really, really glaring and really challenging for our community in terms of having safe options for people.”

The Homeward Trust receives provincial funding, McGee said, with $29 million to support housing space, but it’s not enough. She said the number of people living without a home has increased significantly during the pandemic, from 1,600 to between 2,600 and 2,700.

Shelters are not the only essential need. EFCL is also seeking increased funding for support services such as addiction and mental health treatment.

“We really need a lot of services to support the long-term goals of our organization, which is to provide ongoing housing and long-term solutions,” she said.

“It’s really less about Calgary versus Edmonton. This is really about a community in Alberta that is currently underserved, and no matter what the decision is or how that decision is made, we know for a fact that we don’t have .resources to provide them with the solutions they need.”

When asked to comment on the letter, Mayor Amarjit Sohi told CTV News Edmonton, in part, “I appreciate the letter sent by EFCL and their community league members. I echo their calls to the province, and continue to advocate for equal funding. rakish. housing, shelters and surrounding services.”

The Minister for Community and Social Services was also asked to comment on the disparity outlined in the letter. His press secretary responded with information on existing funding for Edmonton and said he would work with the city on the issue.

With files from David Iwasuk of CTV News Edmonton