During COVID-19, Edmonton’s homeless population is being directed to the Expo centre, where there are two programs available in the 500,000-square-foot building. One is a medical service, with beds for people with symptoms of COVID-19 who need a place to self-isolate. The other part is a drop-in that runs 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.
“It’s well-attended and as people are starting to learn it exists, and that all the measures are there to keep people safe, it’s growing in popularity,” said Tanti.
On Friday, 512 people made use of the drop-in, which features temporary storage space, meals, access to showers and washrooms, plus recreation services. Organizers are trying hard to come up with wellness activities for clients, because people who are living in poverty face similar struggles to everyone else in that they need something to do during COVID-19.
“We’ve been mindful of that and have tried to create opportunities to do things and engage with each other in a way that’s safe. Everything we do is with the health and safety of the community and staff at the forefront. It’s a difficult balance, but everyone is facing it.”