Alberta’s new ‘navigation and support centre’ helps 145 since opening in mid-January


The Alberta government said 145 people have sought help through its new navigation and support centre since it opened on Jan. 17.

The centre was opened in downtown Edmonton last month, amid ongoing debate about how to address Edmonton’s homelessness crisis. The Alberta government said the centre, located at the Karis Centre on 103rd Avenue and 106th Street, would provide increased support for people living in homeless encampments across the city.

In a news release Saturday, the province also said more than “500 referrals and direct connections have been made to available services.”

Of the 500 connections, the province said more than 55 people have been connected to housing programs, including affordable housing and rental supplements, and at least 80 people have been connected to emergency shelter spaces, transitional and  supportive housing. Service Alberta has also issued more than 60 identification cards and at least 60 people have been connected with employment and financial services.

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Click to play video: 'Edmonton to increase encampment cleanups as support centre opens'

Edmonton to increase encampment cleanups as support centre opens

The Alberta government said the ‘benefit” of the centre is that people can access several types of services in one place, including mental health and addiction support.

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The province said more than 50 people have been referred for health supports and about 40 have been connected to mental health and addiction services, including about 10 people who have started opioid agonist therapy (OAT).

“I’m pleased to know Albertans facing homelessness and suffering from the deadly disease of addiction are getting connected to treatment and other services through this navigation and support centre. Rather than sleeping in tents often in gang-run drug camps, these individuals are getting the care and help they need,” Mental Health and Addiction Minister Dan Williams said.

“We have made noticeable progress toward a long-term solution that both helps the vulnerable and holds the gangs and drug dealers preying on them accountable,” said Dale McFee, chief of the Edmonton Police Service. “Because we are able to connect individuals to wrap-around supports immediately, there are fewer encampments across the city, leaving less opportunity for criminals to target those struggling with mental health, addiction and trauma. Early indications are that this partnership-based approach works.”

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The navigation centre is open Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Services and staff are available 24-7 for individuals registered with and using the centre.

“This centre has not only helped Edmonton’s most vulnerable, it is an important step to creating a safe and vibrant downtown for all,” said Mike Saunders, with the Downtown Recovery Coalition.

The province said the centre will be evaluated after 30 days to gauge the effectiveness of the program and its services.

Click to play video: 'Reaction to Alberta announcement on Edmonton homeless navigation and support centre'

Reaction to Alberta announcement on Edmonton homeless navigation and support centre

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