Rough Sleeper Camps

Makeshift camps in Red Deer’s parks and other green spaces pose a risk to health and safety for those who use them and for the community.

Citizens experiencing homelessness that are displaced from camps should be encouraged to reach out to a Coordinated Entry Housing Worker at either of the following:

  • Safe Harbour Society (5246 53rd Avenue)
  • Women’s Outreach Society (4101 54th Avenue)

At this point, we would encourage citizens requiring shelter to be aware of the following shelters:

  • People’s Place Overnight Shelter located at The Mustard Seed (6002 54th Avenue)
  • Mats Program Overnight Shelter located at Safe Harbour (5246 53rd Avenue)
  • Daytime Warming Centre located on Safe Harbour Site (5246 53rd Avenue)

The numbers:

  • 55 rough sleeper camps were cleaned up between January and June 2018.
  • 840 needles required disposal at those rough sleeper camps.
  • Everyone’s Home: Red Deer’s Five Year Plan to End Homelessness (2014-2018) identifies a goal of placing over 43 individuals from rough sleeper camps. Between July 2016 and September 2018, 88 individuals sleeping rough were housed in various housing programs.
  • 13% of the individuals identified as homeless in the 2018 Point in Time count also identified as sleeping unsheltered (rough sleeper camps, parks, etc.)
  • Between January and June 2018, 331 complaints were made to the 24 hour RCMP non-emergency line to report rough sleeper camps.
  • The City of Red Deer receives $3.8 million per year from the Province which is allocated to service providers. These funds are used to provide shelter, managing housing subsidies, or providing case management for individuals and families experiencing chronic or repeated episodes of homelessness.
  • The City of Red Deer receives $693,000 per year from the Federal Government for allocation to service providers. The Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) is a community based program aimed at preventing and reducing homelessness by providing direct support and funding to designated communities including Red Deer.

Current Actions:

  1. In 2019, Red Deer City Council approved additional funding of $400,000 for Needle Debris Collection and Rough Sleeper Encampment Cleanup.
  2. The City has reassigned some of its existing resources to respond to reported rough sleeper camps and clean them up.
  3. Report a Problem, The City’s online reporting tool, steers people to the RCMP non-emergency line. When rough sleeper camps are reported, the following process is activated:
    • A Municipal Enforcement Officer is dispatched to the reported campsite, which is often vacant. If this is the case, the area is added to a list for Parks to attend for regularly scheduled cleanup.
    • If occupants are present, the camp location is recorded and provided to a Coordinated Entry outreach team. Coordinated Entry responds to these requests within three days and provides referrals to services including housing.
    • Municipal Enforcement Officers serve a 24-hour or 72-hour eviction notice on first attendance, depending on location and assessment of risk. If an immediate danger or risk to the public is identified, it will be dealt with in an appropriate manner.
    • Municipal Enforcement concludes by communicating with Parks department staff who are regularly scheduled for site clean ups.
  4. Housing First* principle-based programs are delivered every day in Red Deer. Local support agencies meet regularly to discuss those identified in need, and find appropriate housing and support services for them.

Ongoing Strategies:

  1. The City continues to work and collaborate with local social agencies/partners and other levels of government to secure affordable housing options in Red Deer.
  2. The City determines where funding is best allocated in Red Deer, distributing federal and provincial dollars to local agencies and organizations for local affordable housing and homelessness projects and initiatives.
  3. Continued efforts to focus on housing 115 of Red Deer’s longest-term shelter stayers and 43 rough sleepers as identified in Everyone’s Home: Red Deer’s Five Year Plan to End Homelessness (2014-2018) and Red Deer’s System Framework and Supports.
  4. As part of Red Deer’s Coordinated Entry Program, outreach workers connect with individuals experiencing homelessness, which includes rough sleepers, to provide them with information on supportive programming.
  5. Red Deer’s Coordinated Access Program matches individuals with housing that best meets their needs.

The City is responding to all reported rough sleeper camp clean-ups with a joint team that includes agencies and RCMP; however, there remains a need for a 24/7 purpose built shelter in Red Deer and The City continues to call on the Province of Alberta to respond to this need.

*Rough Sleepers are peoples experiencing homelessness who are sleeping unsheltered on either public or private lands.

*Housing First is a recovery-oriented approach to ending homelessness that centers on quickly moving people experiencing homelessness into independent and permanent housing and then providing additional supports and services as needed.