Twice as many children homeless in Edmonton

The number of children counted as homeless in Edmonton jumped dramatically last year even as the number of homeless people overall dropped.

A homeless count in October 2012 found just 2,174 people homeless in Edmonton, down 247 from two years ago.

But the number of children and youth almost doubled from 123 to 223.

"In a society like this there should be absolutely no reason why we can't find adequate housing for children," said Mayor Stephen Mandel, who wants more effort put into finding homes for families.

"There's just no excuse, so I think we need to begin to focus on that and by this time next year we'll have no — not one — child on the street that is homeless."

The annual count found three-quarters of homeless people are men with an average age of 42.

While the number of homeless is trending down, the numbers remain too high, said Susan McGhee with Homeward Trust, the agency tasked with ending homelessness in Edmonton by 2019.

"Although I think we have made a significant dent in chronic homeless that are living on the streets, we continue to have a signficant issue," she said. "We have been tracking the winter emergency numbers and we ... continue to see shelter numbers go up."

Human Services Minister Dave Hancock said the provincial government remains committed to ending homelessness by the end of the decade despite any fiscal crisis.

"We're not backing away from that," he said Tuesday. "The budget will be the budget, but we will continue to focus on our priorities and one of those priorities is to end homelessness in 10 years."

Homeless numbers are down from the 3,000 people living on the streets in 2008.

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