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UCP spending $48 million to help homeless populations during pandemic

Last Updated Aug 5, 2020 at 11:05 am MST

Calgary's urban sprawl outpaces most cities in North America. With the fast growth comes infrastructure and social problems in a booning city. The population is still growing and many people in Calgary are homeless because of high rents and housing availability. (David Buston/CP)

EDMONTON (660 NEWS) – The Alberta government is spending more money to protect the homeless during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Community and Social Services Minister Rajan Sawhney announced an additional $48 million will go towards expanding shelter space in several cities including Calgary and Edmonton.

“This funding ensures vulnerable Albertans have 24/7 access to shelter facilities where possible, and are able to self-isolate and receive care in safe spaces. We will continue working with shelter operators and Alberta Health Services to ensure the health and safety of vulnerable Albertans,” said Sawhney.

In March, the province provided $25 million in emergency support for homeless shelters to ensure workers have access to personal protective equipment and increased support from Alberta Health Services to train staff.

About one month later, the Telus Convention Centre in Calgary and the Expo Centre in Edmonton were converted into temporary shelters as many local organizations were at capacity.

For those working with Alberta’s homeless every day, the additional funding is welcome.

“I am pleased government is stepping up to provide additional financial help so we can continue to support people through this difficult time,” said Bruce Reith with Hope Mission.

“COVID-19 continues to pose a serious threat to people experiencing homelessness,” added Stephen Wile with the Mustard Seed. “It is critical that we continue to work together to make sure Albertans experiencing homelessness are protected and have access to safe isolation and care or emergency shelter.”

The Alberta government has said, so far, these measures have managed to keep COVID-19 from sweeping through vulnerable populations living on the streets.