28 rural communities kick-off collective effort to map out effects of COVID-19 on housing and services.

Outreach workers and service providers in 10 rural communities kick off a follow-up effort to understand how housing and services have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Another 18 communities are preparing to collect and deliver surveys over the following months.

October 9, 2020


Edmonton –The Alberta Rural Development Network announced the follow-up project to the 2018 Rural Homelessness Estimations project, which spanned 20 communities. The pioneer project surveyed 1,771 individuals on location at 185 service providers across 20 communities with a total population of 291,531 (StatsCan 2016).

1,098 of those surveyed declared that they did not have stable housing and/or they were at-risk of losing their housing. Respondents from the 2018 project identified “low income”, “[inability] to pay rent/mortgage”, “inadequate housing”, and “job loss” as top reasons for why their housing situation was unstable.

Any inequities found in 2018 could have been compounded with the COVID-19 pandemic—which has caused evictions and job losses—and the project aims to collect much-needed data on its extent.

"Communities are struggling with an economic slowdown on top of a global pandemic, and so it's now more important than ever to understand the needs of local residents," says Dee Ann Benard, Executive Director of the ARDN. "In the past, rural communities have been met with disbelief when they say homelessness is an issue, but efforts to collect tangible data are starting to turn that around."

Scott Travis, Director of Research for the ARDN adds, "Several communities who participated in the 2018 Estimation are also partners in the 2020 project. This is the first time any follow up has been conducted on such a large scale in North America. As such, this is a unique opportunity to understand the factors affecting those without housing security."

With resident feedback, the survey will help identify the type and the number of homes currently needed in each community; and the kind of services and resources needed by residents. Data collected from the project will help local municipalities and local service providers better understand and address identified gaps within the community.

List of participating Communities:

  • Athabasca
  • Banff & Canmore
  • Cardston
  • Chestermere
  • Cochrane
  • County of Grande Prairie
  • Drumheller
  • Edson
  • Fort Macleod
  • Fox Creek
  • Greenview
  • Hinton
  • Kainai First Nation
  • Lac La Biche County
  • Morinville
  • Okotoks
  • Peace River
  • Slave Lake
  • St. Albert
  • Stettler
  • Stony Plain & Spruce Grove
  • Strathcona County
  • Strathmore
  • Sylvan Lake
  • Tofield-Riley-Beaver County West
  • Westlock and District
  • Whitecourt
  • Yellowhead County

To learn more about the project and ways to participate, please contact the project lead, Julia Juco, at juliaj@ardn.ca

This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy administered through the Alberta Rural Development Network.

Learn More:
Rural Homelessness Estimation Project - 2018 Provincial Report: https://www.ardn.ca/publications/2018-rural-homelessness-estimation-project-rhep
Rural Homelessness Estimation Project - individual community summaries https://www.ardn.ca/publications/2018-rural-homelessness-estimation-project-rhep


Julia Juco