A grassroots project is underway to identify the homeless population in Ponoka.
The project, A Rural Homelessness Estimation Survey, aims to bring important information together to try and get a handle on the homeless population in the area.
Ponoka FCSS is working with Wetaskiwin FCSS as they received the grant funding to conduct the work, explained Shannon Boyce-Campbell, executive director. Not knowing the prevalence of homelessness in Ponoka means it is also difficult to know what the needs are. Ponoka and Wetaskiwin FCSS will work together in the hopes of capturing the right information.
“Homelessness is really unknown and people are really unaware of it in rural communities,” she explained.
It’s a project that’s happening across the province.
“A lot of our transient population are shared,” explained Boyce-Campbell.
Working collectively with different agencies in the community has shown that there is a need to provide supports for homeless individuals, however, there is no housing or few options available to them.
“I would never want to guess the number…because I think that we don’t know. And that’s the whole point of the survey,” said Boyce-Campbell.
For the month of October, Ponoka FCSS will rollout the survey and community groups that have offered to help will receive training on how to ask questions.
The surveys are confidential and will help with a provincial vision and understanding of homelessness in rural communities.
“It might create some funding to help these situations,” said Boyce-Campbell.
“The project is to be identifying the gaps and filling them as opposed to rolling out funding to something that may or may not exist.”
She looks forward to determine what homelessness in rural communities actually looks like and how to bridge the gaps.
For more information contact Boyce-Campbell at 403-783-4462.