Calgary Homeless Foundation, in collaboration with the City of Calgary, Government of Alberta, shelter agencies, community organizations, and outreach teams are implementing several measures as part of the Coordinated Community Winter Response. CHF has engaged in conversations with community partners to inform immediate actions, such as those listed below. We are also committed to ongoing collaboration with community partners to develop long-term responses to serve better those experiencing homelessness.

To ensure the timeliness of this response, CHF has brought on two additional dedicated resources to support this work over the next three months; Adam Melnyk and Richard Mugford. With considerable experience in the homeless-serving sector, Adam and Richard will provide valuable perspectives and insights as we work towards enhancing community-driven solutions. They are eager to continue connecting with our community and are available for ongoing conversations.

They can be reached at adamm@calgaryhomeless.com & Richard.mugford@calgaryhomeless.com

The immediate actions in support of the Coordinated Community Winter Response focus on three key areas.

  1. Create more warm spaces

Several agencies have approached The City and the Calgary Homeless Foundation with opportunities to expand their current services. This new funding will allow agencies to: Expand hours of operation, increase services including increasing capacity, and expand outreach capacity to find and refer individuals to appropriate community resources.

The initial locations which have been identified are :

  • The Bridge – The Drop-In Centre –- 1 Dermot Baldwin Way SE
    • Funded by the Government of Alberta, a pilot project is currently underway during the winter months to support individuals not accessing the main shelter.  Individuals can warm themselves, access washrooms, snacks, the clothing room, and get relief from the cold. The DI believes that the Bridge program offers an opportunity to begin supporting individuals to overcome barriers to safe housing options. The hours of operation are from 7am to 8pm.
  • 102 Support Centre – The Mustard Seed– 102 11 Ave SE, Calgary
    • The Mustard Seed will be expanding its warming center hours starting January 1st from 9:00am –5:00pm to 7:00am – 7:00pm. Services include food, warm clothing,  winter wear, and providing additional busing to the shelter.
  • Wellness Space the Alex Main Site-101 2840 2 Avenue SE
    • The Alex is currently working on a program design to provide warming services. More information will be forthcoming in the New Year.
  • The Inglewood Opportunity Hub – Woods homes – 1008 14 Street SE
    • Beginning January 11, 2022, hours of operation will be 9:00 am to 7:00 pm, seven days per week. Individuals will be provided with a warm meal, laundry, shower facilities and access to required winter clothing for youth (ages 12-29).

These service expansions add to our city’s existing range of resources. Please see the link below for a full list of locations and services provided.

Winter Resource Guide

Adam and Richard are working to connect with additional resources that exist in our community and build awareness of the options available for warming and basic needs services.

  1. Provide basic winter safety essentials

CHF has engaged with Calgary’s Homeless Serving Outreach teams. Initial conversations support an understanding of the opportunities that exist to fill service gaps and ensure sufficient supplies and resources to help those experiencing homelessness through current and future extreme weather needs. CHF is currently organizing a central distribution location where outreach services will access basic needs for distribution. If your outreach team requires supplies, please contact Adam or Richard.

An immediate opportunity was to increase Alpha House’s outreach supports and transportation services. The DOAP Team and Encampment Team provided by Alpha House will be the primary resource over the holiday season for connecting those experiencing homelessness to services.

  1. Support community efforts to reduce barriers to shelter access

Calgary shelter services can serve those experiencing homelessness during the winter months and have capacity and space. At times, complex circumstances may act as barriers for specific individuals to access these services.  Shelters regularly assess their policies and practices to address these barriers.

CHF will continue to work with shelter providers, the City of Calgary, and the Government of Alberta to understand these barriers better and support solutions. Actions currently being taken by community partners to improve access include the following:

  • Individuals may receive a temporary bar from accessing shelter if they violate policies and regulations. It is important to note that most bars are short-term and temporary; those that are longer-term are a result of extreme threats and/or violence. Shelters share their respective barred lists and attempt to ensure that no one is barred from all locations at the same time. Shelters will relax bars as the weather changes. For example, the Drop-In Centre permits compassionate access for barred clients at -10.
  • Calgary Community Standards are prepared to adjust their practices for caring for pets by extending the time they will care for an animal from 10 to 30 days.
  • Locations are exploring options for more on-site storage
  • Increasing the capacity of outreach that provides transport to shelters is being explored. Additional transportation is also built into the plans of several of the proposed programs
  • To enable greater shelter capacity, the GoA has issued Exemption – Order 55-2021, permitting reduced physical distancing requirements and allowing for the removal of face masks in specific shelter settings

The Coordinated Community Winter Response is the first of its kind in Calgary. This strategy represents a promising opportunity to develop long-term winter responses for Calgarians experiencing homelessnessCHF is committed to engaging in ongoing responses to support those experiencing homelessness during the winter months. This will include assessing the current and future state of system need, understanding service gaps, coordinating resources, and creating a coordinated strategy amongst community partners to deliver a sustainable winter response.

In the new year, CHF plans to establish a grant application process that will allow service providers to apply for funding to increase their service offerings.

If your organization would like to help, please let us know: mattn@calgaryhomeless.com