At the October 2016 Board/CEO Connectivity Breakfast, over 60 Board Chairs and CEOs of member agencies from Calgary’s homeless-serving sector prioritized 3 Things they were committed to achieving by the end of 2018, when Calgary’s Plan to End Homelessness sunsets.

The Plan, launched in 2008, has provided a framework and focus for our efforts as a community to drive transformational change across the homeless-serving system of care, and towards ending homelessness in Calgary.

Over the past 8+ years of activating the guidelines established in the original plan and the updates from 2011 and the most recent: Calgary’s Plan to End Homelessness: People First in Housing First update of 2015, we have continually focused on creating better results for those experiencing homelessness and those working hard to alleviate its impact on peoples lives and our city.

We’ve achieved a great deal. Some highlights are:

  • Over 8,000 people housed.
    • The sector consistently achieves a +90% retention rate for people housed.
    • People in housing access public and emergency services less often creating more efficiencies and better health and well-being outcomes across the system.
  • Over 450 housing units built specifically for the sector.
  • The RESOLVE Campaign continues to create pathways to housing for 3,000 Calgarians at risk of or experiencing homelessness.
    • 9 agencies are collaborating with philanthropic Calgarians to raise $120 million to build housing
  • Coordinated Access and Assessment provides coordinated tool for the system of care that creates ease of access to supports and housing for people entering Caglary’s homeless-serving system of care.
  • The Homeless Management Information System is Canada’s most comprehensive database on homelessness.
    • HMIS contains over 35,000 data entries and has been cited in over 30 research articles
    • HMIS provides a deep and broad picture of homelessness in our city as well as an understanding of its contributing factors and gaps in system planning
  • SORCe, initiated by Calgary Police Service, is a one stop centre for those seeking information and help to end homelessness in their lives
    • 15+ agencies provide storefront access to one-stop needs assessment and supports for vulnerable Calgarians

We’ve accomplished a great deal.

Together, we can do more.

I Heart Home: 3 Things is about the ‘more’ we can do together to end homelessness in our city.

These are the 3 Things community has agreed are vital to ending homelessness.

House more People

People first in Housing First
House 10,000 people by December 31 2018 (2008 – 2016 + 8,000 housed)

Build more Futures
Build over 600 new purpose built dedicated permanent supportive housing units to the system of care by 2018. (450+ since 2008 have been built or are on track to be built)

Save more Lives

Have a high-performing system of care that is integrated with ‘big system’s to provide efficiencies and effectiveness across the sector to better serve those at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

Over the coming weeks, the I Heart Home YYC website will be updated to reflect community’s focus on its 3 Things goals and activities. Launch of the updated website is early May, 2017 — stay tuned for more info.

In the meantime, the following two videos tell more of the story. Please feel free to grab the feed and post on your own website or share via your social media.

 

What is Home?

Together, we can do more!

 

Recently, a hand written, anonymous letter arrived in the CHF mailbox. Addressed to the Calgary Homeless Foundation c/o Diana Krescy, the writer shares their experiences of having experienced homelessness for many years of their life and what it means to now have a home and a CHF owned apartment building with supports from a partner agency.

The writer speaks of their hopelessness in homelessness. They speak of being judged, persecuted, condemned and they write about being at home. “I still no sleep in a bed yet,” they write. “But do sleep now finally.”

It is a moving and powerful letter about survival, and most importantly, the power of HOME.

Thank you anonymous writer for reminding all of us of the importance of ending homelessness so that everyone can find themselves at home.

In her remarks, the Honourable Teresa Woo-Paw, MLA for Calgary-Northern Hills and Associate Minister of Asia Pacific Relations, identified three words that are deadly to social change.

Can’t. Never. Impossible.

Ending homelessness deserves better than our negativity.

It deserves our best.

Those three words need to be changed, reframed, transformed to ensure we never lose sight of our goal of ending homelessness. It’s important for everyone.

On March 3rd, 450 people came together to hear and talk and explore how we can do our best. Together.

On March 3rd, when Calgary’s Updated Plan to End Homelessness was launched, 450 people stood together and said, count me in.

We can do this.

We will always hold the vision, together.

When we work together, everything is possible.

At the launch, we shared the ‘what’ that community identified as essential to ending homelessness. These comments came from a year and a half of consultations and over 800 comments from community on what they saw, believed, knew needed to be done.

Diana Krecsy, President and CEO of the Calgary Homeless Foundation, the backbone agency charged with ensuring the Plan continues to move forward and realize its vision, stated in her review of how we got here to this moment today, “In 2008 we believed in the vision. In 2011 we understood a lot more about homelessness in Calgary than we had when we began. Today, we know. We know what’s working and what’s not. And we know we have to do this together, as a community.”

In 2008 (when the plan was launched) there wasn’t a lot of coordination between agencies, or a lot of information sharing. In fact, there was no shared database of who’s who in the system of care, who was receiving service from what agency and where the duplications existed. Today, there is a common information system (Homeless Management Information System). There is coordination and collaboration throughout the system of care including Coordinated Assessment and Access.

In 2011, there was a deep understanding of the complexities of homelessness and the need for supports when housing someone directly from the streets. And, there was a deeper understanding of what it was going to take to get the job done.

In 2015, everyone knows it can be done — as long as we work together. As long as we share the vision. As long as we each do our part to make it happen. Not just those working in the sector, but every Calgarian along with government on all levels, faith groups, community associations, individual Calgarians. Everyone.

Yesterday, we presented the Updated Plan and what still needs to be done to end homelessness.

Now, it’s time to get down to the ‘how’.

How am I going to contribute?

How am I going to make a difference?

How am I going to add my voice to the vision of ending homelessness?

There are hundreds of ways each of us can contribute. Whether we live in Calgary or another city somewhere in Canada or anywhere in the world, we can, and we must, do whatever it takes to ensure we remove the less out of homeless so that everyone can find their way home.

As part of the launch, we introduced the idea of “I Heart Home”. In the case of Calgary, “I heart home YYC”. But it could be any centre, any town, anywhere.

No one can argue with home. The value of having one. The need of knowing you’ve got one to come home to. The desire to ensure your children have one. The desire to help your neighbours have one too.

In launching the Updated Plan, we embedded our collective need to understand what home means to each of us at the centre of our work.

So, here’s your invitation. Watch the video, I Heart Home YYC, and, take a video/photo of you, calling out, I heart home because…. and add your voice. And then, share on your social media platforms. Twitter. Instagram. Youtube. Blog..

You’ve be making a difference and you’ll be joining the movement.  Thank you!

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