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COVID-19 creates growing concerns about Alberta's homeless

Last Updated Apr 28, 2020 at 6:21 am MST

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – After the first cases of COVID-19 among the homeless population were confirmed, concerns about an outbreak among the community are starting to materialize.

In some cases, safety protocols like social distancing can be hard to maintain in the homeless community.

READ MORE: COVID-19 hits Calgary Drop-In Centre

The province has been working on that since the start of the outbreak by providing funds to help open 14 new shelters and to get access to hotels and housing.

However, that’s where president and CEO of BeTheChangeYYC Chaz Smith says he sees one of the biggest issues.

“Ultimately, housing is the solution to end homeless and I also think we could do better (in) taking people out of emergency shelters and putting them in hotel rooms,” Smith said.

However, he adds another issue is becoming just as serious.

Hunger.

“The primary request is for food. People that were able to panhandle previously are not able to (now). There’s no one walking the streets so they can’t secure these funds,” Smith said.

“Even if they can find money, they’re not able to access a lot of the McDonalds and Tim Hortons that are shut down in the downtown core. And they can’t go inside of the shelters unless they are clients of that shelter.”

There are four confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Alberta’s homeless population as of Monday, April 27.