Airdrie's homelessness estimation study to start mid-March

Participating service providers in Airdrie will provide paper copies to community members, and it will also be available online. Survey respondents will remain anonymous.

Airdrie’s first Homelessness Estimation Study is set to commence in March with a final report anticipated in the fall of 2024 that will include actions to tackle Airdrie specific issues.

“Homelessness can be understood as a spectrum in which people can experience being unsheltered, emergency sheltered, provisionally accommodated, and at-risk of homelessness,” said Emma Wallace, the study project manager from the Rural Development Network (RDN), during the March 4 Airdrie City Council meeting.

The key aims of the Homelessness Estimation Study are to help the City of Airdrie quantify homelessness in Airdrie, determine what service gaps exist and link to and inform the City’s work on Airdrie’s 2024-2030 Affordable Housing Principled Action Plan.

The survey will commence mid-March and run for 45 days until the end of April 2024.

Participating service providers in Airdrie will provide paper copies to community members, and it will also be available online. Survey respondents will remain anonymous.

The survey uses the federal government’s definition of homelessness which is described as “the situation of an individual, family or community without stable, safe, permanent, appropriate housing, or the immediate prospect, means and ability of acquiring it.”

Once the survey period is completed, the data will be analyzed and a final report will be completed in July. That report will be shared with council and Airdrie residents in the fall of 2024. Next steps will be taken in the winter of 2024 based on study results.

“We want to be able to use this data to help advocacy purposes in applying for funding to prevent and respond to homelessness, and most importantly looking to elevate and incorporate the voices of folks experiencing homelessness and solutions to end homelessness,” Wallace said.

The top factors leading to homelessness in Calgary, which is the closest city to Airdrie with data on homelessness, included low incomes, lack of affordable housing, conflicts with a spouse, conflicts with landlords, or substance use issues.

Based on the 2022 National Point in Time Count, there were 6,649 Albertans experiencing homelessness across the seven major cities. Wallace said there is no homelessness data in Airdrie.

A study of 45 communities across Alberta in 2023 showed that 69 per cent of homeless respondents were employed in some capacity, which means sometimes having a job is not enough.

“In reality, people experiencing homelessness are much more likely to have experienced violence or be a victim of crime than be the ones committing the crime,” Wallace said. “This is a common misconception because people experiencing homelessness do often interact with the criminal justice system, but this is as a result of activities required for daily survival, which are criminalized, for example going to the bathroom in public, loitering, or trespassing.”

Wallace added that someone does not have to be sleeping outside or “sleeping rough” to be experiencing homelessness. Homeless individuals often avoid the streets or emergency shelters in fear of their safety and will couch surf or stay in unsafe or inadequate housing.

Coun. Al Jones pointed out that some homeless individuals may not have access to the online survey, to which Wallace said local service agencies like the library, Airdrie’s Genesis Place, a victim support centre, and the local food bank would be providing paper copies. RDN will also work with the City to determine any areas in the City they could visit to distribute paper copies of the survey.

Wallace said it’s important to have up to date information about the City’s homelessness situation in order to apply for funding for things like affordable housing, which is also a requirement for builders.

RDN is currently working with local service agencies to translate the survey based on the needs of their clientele.


Holly Udall