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Homelessness survey results ‘significant’ for Fort Macleod

cassie walmsley

Cassie Walmsley is co-ordinator of the rural homelessness estimation project for Fort Macleod Family and Community Support Services.

Housing instability is an issue in Fort Macleod.
A recent survey revealed 47 people are living in an unstable housing situation.
“For a community our size, 47 people is a significant number,” Town of Fort Macleod chief administrative officer Sue Keenan said.
The results of the rural homelessness survey administered by the Alberta Rural Development Network and conducted in Fort Macleod by Cassie Walmsley were on the agenda of the Nov. 26 council meeting.
The report indicated 58 people who completed the survey in a one-month period had experienced housing instability in Fort Macleod.
Sixty-six per cent of those who responded are men, and 34 per cent are women.
The majority of respondents — 53 per cent — are aged 25-49 years, while 33 per cent are 50-64 years of age.
Nine per cent of people who completed the survey are over 64 years of age, and five per cent are under the age of 25.
Fifty-eight per cent of people who completed the survey are caucasian and 38 per cent are Indigenous.
Thirty-three per cent of people surveyed indicated low income was to blame for their housing insecurity.
Twenty-seven per cent said addictions and substance abuse were to blame.
Sixteen per cent of people surveyed said their housing instability was the result of conflict in their lives.
An inability to pay rent and mortgages and job loss were other reasons cited for housing instability.
“I think this information will go a long way as we move forward,” Keenan said of work by the Fort Macleod Affordable Housing Coalition.
Homelessness is defined as the situation of an individual or family without stable, permanent, appropriate housing, or the immediate prospect, means and ability of acquiring it.
Walmsley conducted the survey in October for Fort Macleod Family and Community Support Services (FCSS).
She partnered with Affordable Housing, Foothills Centre, Salvation Army, Kids First Family Centre, the RCMP, Fort Macleod Library and Training Inc. and other agencies to reach people.
The 10-minute survey asked questions about current and past living situations, employment, demographic information, citizenship and immigration status and income sources.
Fort Macleod was one of 21 rural Alberta communities taking part in what will be one of the largest rural data collection projects on unstable housing ever completed.
Fort Macleod received a $5,000 grant from the Alberta Rural Development Network to carry out the project. It is one of 14 communities to receive funding.
The project, which is just the fourth-ever count of rural unstable housing in North America, is a partnership of the Family and Community Support Services Association of Alberta and the Alberta Rural Development Network.
Research suggests that 35,000 Canadians are homeless on any given night, that 235,000 Canadians experience homelessness in a year, and that homelessness costs Canadians $4.5-billion each year.

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