ALBERTA – Oct. 3, 2023 – Earlier in 2023, the Rural Development Network (RDN) partnered with 21 communities across the province to capture a comprehensive picture of rural, remote, and Indigenous homelessness. The results indicated that women, 2SLGBTQIA+, and Indigenous people are disproportionately at risk of being or currently experiencing housing insecurity or homelessness across rural Alberta.
The data collected in March 2023 identified 2,429 survey respondents as housing insecure according to the national definitions of homelessness. Additionally, the 2,429 housing insecure survey respondents reported sharing housing insecure living conditions with 2,354 dependents and 2,537 adults. That is, based on survey results, at least 7,320 community members are experiencing housing insecurity in the 21 participating rural, remote, and Indigenous communities across the province.
More specifically, RDN discovered that:
“The data coming out of the 2023 provincial estimation are highlighting some very concerning trends – data indicates that vulnerable or minority population groups are at much higher risk for housing insecurity in rural, remote, and Indigenous communities,” says Emma Wallace, Project Manager of Community Development and Homelessness Estimations at RDN.
Based on the survey results, the top three reasons for housing insecurity across participating rural, remote, and Indigenous communities in Alberta are:
The data also suggests that despite an employment rate of 64% among housing insecure respondents, 49% reported an annual household income of $49,999 or less in 2022. This, combined with the fact that according to the Economic Research Institute (2023), the cost of living is an average of 6% higher than the national average across all 21 communities and an average of 4% higher than the provincial average in Alberta across all participating communities, speaks to the main reported reason for housing insecurity among respondents: low wages. In other words, without adequate wages to match their communities’ cost of living, housing insecure respondents will continue to struggle with housing insecurity.
Survey respondents further indicated that increased availability of affordable housing, public transportation, and services would help improve housing insecure respondents' housing situations.
“Our goal at RDN is to support rural, remote, and Indigenous communities to identify and bring focus to rural issues, including housing insecurity. Data collected in each participating community should allow them to better address housing insecurity locally and, when combined to reflect the provincial picture, will allow for improved provincial and federal decision-making and funding allocations to address rural, remote, and Indigenous homelessness,” says Wallace.
This is the third provincial estimation project that RDN has conducted with rural, remote, and Indigenous communities in Alberta, with two other estimations conducted in 2018 and 2020 respectively. More information about these results can be found on the Rural Development Network website.
“The data provided by the Rural Development Network (RDN) in the 2023 Alberta Housing and Services Needs Estimation will help us make targeted decisions to address housing insecurities and other aspects of homelessness in Alberta. We will continue to work with partners to help create safe, stable, and affordable housing throughout Alberta and across Canada,” says The Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages.
To learn more about the 2023 project, check out the 2023 Alberta Provincial Housing and Service Needs report.
This project was funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy.
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