Weaving Threads of Hope
New transitional housing in the west end offers help to those in immediate need.
Whether we are housed, unhoused, tenting, or just driving through Boyle Street and McCauley, we are affected by the visible weight of homelessness and the wait for positive shifts in this continuing crisis. It’s been a hard winter with the devastating impact of frostbite, the shigella outbreak, fires, and deaths. Housing Outreach Teams at Bissell Centre, Boyle Street Community Services, and others actively engage with those sleeping rough. They work tirelessly to connect them with community resources and housing options, while Homeward Trust coordinates the city-wide responses.
One additional thread of hope opened in late January, thanks to partners like the Jasper Place Wellness Centre, the Tallcree First Nation, and the City of Edmonton, which invested $7.5 million from its Sustainability Fund. The Bedfort Inn on 155th Street and Stony Plain Road provides a transitional space for those in need of immediate safe lodging. Fifty-nine separate rooms equipped with a mini-fridge, microwave, and bathroom offer steps towards improved health and affordable housing. There are also daily meals plus mat spaces in the former banquet hall.
Homeward Trust reports that 45% of those seeking safe, affordable housing identify as women. Separate rooms with private bathrooms are especially valued by women. CEASE staff can refer women fleeing trafficking and exploitation to the Bedfort. The Safety Network Coordinator (identity protected) works with ALERT Human Trafficking Counter Exploitation Detectives. One woman felt her only option was to return to her trafficker. When she was offered a spot at the Bedfort, she took it! Knowing that she had a safe place to stay for 90 days where she could regain her autonomy and connect to a housing worker lifted her hopes.
Maureen Reid, CEASE Coordinator, asked a woman she had referred to the Bedfort about her experience: “Oh my goodness, I finally had a safe bed to sleep in after being homeless for four months. The stress immediately left me and the first night I slept nine hours straight, and I was warm! The staff were extremely kind to me and I felt really supported and cared for. The housing support worker was so helpful with my move and helped me with getting food and furniture.”
Maureen said, “As a staff person, this is a tremendous resource gift and a very gratifying experience working with the JPW staff to help participants reach their goal of finding a safe and affordable home”.
There are many other hopeful stories emerging from these 59 rooms. These stories strengthen us all. But, will this be a last chapter? The original funding expires May 31st.
Kate Quinn is the Executive Director of the Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation (CEASE). She lives in McCauley.