Edmonton’s Collaborative Response
In March 2020, when Alberta issued a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses and organizations shut their doors or reduced their capacity to accommodate physical distancing.
What happened next was an extraordinary example of collaboration between Boyle Street and our incredible partners to serve our city’s most vulnerable during a time of crisis. With help from the City of Edmonton, Government of Alberta and Alberta Health Services, we opened the Edmonton EXPO Centre as a single location where people experiencing homelessness could go to access programs and services in a safe environment.
This video series tells the story of our community coming together to protect people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Episode 1: The Day Services
Take a tour through the Day Drop-in located at the Edmonton Expo Centre to learn about the critical services provided and how collaboration has kept people safe and supported through the pandemic.
“One of the great examples of our community collaboration down here is this area, where many of the agencies provide (services such as) community closet, taxes, and housing supports. We've all brought our services from our centres, basically providing a one-stop shop."
-Scarlet Bjornson, Bissell Centre
Episode 2: The Isolation Centre
Take a walk through the Isolation Shelter, a temporary facility that was set up to provide screening, testing, health services and self-isolation space for Edmonton’s most vulnerable people during the COVID-19 public health crisis.
"A lot of our population that experiences homelessness here in Edmonton already carry a heavy burden of illness, a heavy burden of past and current psychological trauma. And so, the pandemic created another barrier to keeping themselves safe and healthy."
-Dr. Francesco Mosaico, Boyle McCauley Health Centre
Episode 3: A Way Home
In the third episode of this series, we hear from Rob, a Drop-In Centre program participant, about his recent journey accessing services, support and ultimately being housed during the pandemic.
“If it wasn't for the housing assistance that I found here, I would still be struggling and homeless and I'd have a couple young kids growing up with a lot less time with their dad... I got to tell my kids we have a place to live."
-Rob, Drop-In Centre program participant
Episode 4: Behind the Data
In the fourth episode of this series, we learn about the key role Edmonton’s innovative and data-driven systems play in supporting and moving people out of homelessness, and how these systems have been able to adapt during the pandemic.
"The data is really a representation of all of the effort, the dedication, and the commitment of the staff that come every day to support the individuals. And it also really speaks to the resilience of our community members despite the challenges they face every day and the tremendous capacity they have for change."
-Ashley Eddy, Homeward Trust Edmonton
Episode 5: A Safe Place
In the fifth and final episode of this series, we learn how the quick, sector-wide response of more than 20 organizations and all levels of government, led to impactful frontline efforts that provided a much-needed safe space for those experiencing homelessness in Edmonton during the pandemic.
While the Expo Centre was a short-term solution to provide these supports and services, the work of keeping this vulnerable population safe continues. Ultimately, the solution to homelessness is housing.
"Every decision we make as an organization and every decision we make while we're collaborating is putting the folks that we serve at the center of that decision and saying, how do we support them the best that we can."
-Jordan Reiniger, Boyle Street Community Services
This video series was created in partnership with Boyle Street Community Services, Bissell Centre, Homeward Trust Edmonton, and Boyle McCauley Health Centre and produced by PlanIt Sound.
Funding for this project came from the Government of Canada’s Reaching Home program, the Government of Alberta – Ministry of Community and Social Services, and the City of Edmonton.