Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson wants the provincial and federal government to buy hotels and apartment buildings to house the city’s homeless.
Iveson said the COVID-19 pandemic has lowered the real estate market and the governments should be able to get good deals on hotels and apartment buildings.
The mayor will now write a letter to the federal and provincial governments requesting immediate support to address the “long-standing crisis in homelessness and resulting social disorder.”
Iveson said last week he wanted an urgent plan to end homelessness in the city within 10 weeks.
His call came after hundreds of homeless people set up a illegal tent city in the community of Rosedale after two Edmonton drop-in centres were closed.
“There is rising public demand for action to support vulnerable people and address the social disorder associated with allowing these circumstances to persist,” Iveson told reporters Wednesday.
“As winter nears, we cannot afford to be in the situation as we are now with both the camp and the underlying lack of transitional housing available for people.
“The crux of the motion which council considered today … includes looking at the possibility of using any existing spaces that may have become recently available on an advantageous or discounted basis, really, because of the economic challenges that we’re seeing here.
“Spaces that could at least be used as temporary housing so we can begin to move people out of the cycle of homelessness and into long-term suitable and supportive accommodations.”
Organizers of the illegal tent city in Edmonton have dropped demands the city defund the Edmonton Police Service.
At the end of July, a group of Edmonton protesters set up their own version of Seattle’s CHAZ – and vowed not to move until their demands are met – including $39 million being slashed from the police budget.
The group has now dropped that demand.
The groups other demands – free transit, the establishment of an accessible emergency response fund for frontline workers, more transitional support services, a review of bylaws that target people in poverty and an end to tent slashing and property destruction – remain.
Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard