Today, on International Women’s Day, we celebrate women’s achievements while recognizing that last year, in the 2021 Administrative Count, 28% of people experiencing homelessness in Calgary were women.

Women face unique challenges while experiencing homelessness. Women are more likely to suffer physical, emotional, and sexual violence, and it is more difficult for them to access healthcare products and services when they are menstruating or pregnant.

To mark this International Women’s Day, here are two ways you can support women as they overcome barriers and find their way home:

  1. Ask yourself: is a woman I know experiencing homelessness?

Do I know someone who is couch surfing with family or friends because they don’t have a home?

Women are more likely to live in temporary accommodation, because living on the streets or in shelters increases their risk of sexual exploitation, abuse, and violence.

If you know a woman without a home, direct them to SORCe or the Safe Communities Opportunity Resource Centre, a hub that connects people experiencing homelessness to important programs and services.

  1. Support women-serving organizations in Calgary

Several agencies in Calgary run programs designed to help women experiencing homelessness. When you support these agencies, you help women connect to the housing and resources they need to lead full and independent lives.

Calgary Alpha House Society runs a Women’s Housing Program that provides women with a safe place to live while they address mental health challenges or substance misuse.

Discovery House Family Violence Prevention Society has a Community Housing Program that helps women find safe housing in the community, so they don’t have to return to their abusers.

The SHARP Foundation operates The Croydon, a housing program that provides integrated care and support for women living with complex health and social challenges.

Trellis runs The Maple, a housing program for women who have experienced chronic homelessness.

YW Calgary offers a wide range of services and programs to support women in the city.

Women In Need Society operates several thrift stores across Calgary to provide basic needs and support to women.

Elizabeth Fry Society provides support and advocacy to women involved in the legal and justice systems.

For International Women’s Day, let’s empower women on their journey towards independence and an improved quality of life. Each woman we support on the journey home brings us closer to a gender-equal world where every woman can thrive.


Calgary Homeless Foundation is pleased to announce our partnership with SkipTheDepot, a door-to-door bottle collection service that makes refundable recycling and donating to our organization easy.

How It Works

SkipTheDepot picks up your empty bottles and cans and donates 100% of your returns to Calgary Homeless Foundation, so every dollar of your recycling goes towards the fight against homelessness. To get started:

  1. Visit the web app,, to donate your returns to Calgary Homeless Foundation automatically, or download SkipTheDepot app from the App Store or Google Play.
  2. Place your garbage bags outside.
  3. SkipTheDepot picks up the bags, and Calgary Homeless Foundation receives your donation! (We will issue a tax receipt to you if the amount is $20 and above.)

Why We’re Excited

Over 1200 organizations in Calgary and more than $966,747.73 have been donated through SkipTheDepot. When you recycle with SkipTheDepot and Calgary Homeless Foundation, you are helping the environment and supporting people experiencing homelessness in our city.

What Else Do You Need to Know?

How many cans and bottles can I donate?

A minimum of 150 containers, or two bags worth.

How do I pack them?

No need to sort bottles from cans. Just put everything into garbage bags. (No boxes, please!)

How do I schedule a pick-up from my home?

Visit the web app,, or download SkipTheDepot from the App Store or Google Play.

Enter your address, your desired pick-up date, and select Calgary Homeless Foundation from the list of organizations in the donations section. Use the comments section to give any specific instructions for the driver. (Example: call this number when arriving; bags are alongside fence; please pick up at a particular time).

On the scheduled day of your pickup, place your bags outside in a secure location by 8 am. The driver will pick up your bags between 8 am and 5 pm, label them, and take them to SkipTheDepot’s counting facility.

If you live in an apartment or condo, SkipTheDepot just needs access to your building’s recycling room. Let your building management company know you’re interested in the service.

Can I drop my bottles and cans off to SkipTheDepot?

Yes. Simply find the closest Drop&Go location in the app or website (it’s marked on the map).

Write your 4-digit customer ID on all your bags and head over to the Drop&Go location. Use the app or website to snap a quick picture of your bags and drop the bags into the designated area. SkipTheDepot will count your bags and even show you what they counted!

To learn more, visit

In our new webinar series, presenters describe and discuss how their data sets address homelessness to foster discussion on future research. 

On June 3, 2021 Calgary Homeless Foundation, in partnership with the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, launched the first of our Data That Makes a Difference webinar series.  

 The subject of this first webinar focused on how short cross-sectional studies of the characteristics of homeless people garner a lot of attention, but several other varieties of data, now neglected, bear a lot more useful information. But neglecting these often neglected data has led to serious errors – and might do so again. 

 Our first webinar was attended by over 110 individuals, and our presenter discussed two varieties of data in particular – point in time counts and stocks and flows – demonstrating how they can illuminate both policy-making and understanding.  

 A full recording of the webinar is now available on the Data That Makes a Difference website 

 During the presentation, many attendees joined the lively question and answer discussion. Any questions that were not addressed during the live program, were answered by the keynote speaker, and can be accessed HERE 

 Our Presenter:  

Dan O’Flaherty is a professor of economics at Columbia University, and teaches urban economics and the economics of race. His books include Making Room: The Economics of Homelessness (1996), How to House the Homeless, with Ingrid Ellen (2010), The Economics of Race in the United States (2015), and Shadows of Doubt: Crime, Stereotypes, and the Pursuit of Justice, with Rajiv Sethi (2019). He has served as an aide to Kenneth A. Gibson, the first African American mayor of a major northeastern city. 

 Dan O’Flaherty has been studying homelessness for 30 years. He does so from the point of view of an economist, which means that he bases his ideas and recommendations on data, which is the focus for Data That Makes a Difference. 

 Mr. O’Flaherty has a ‘relaxed’ style of speaking and writing that makes difficult concepts and associated policy recommendations easily understood by non-experts. 

These characteristics mean he can blend the best of both worlds; as he is well-respected as an expert in the field of the economics of homelessness, but he is also able to place what he finds into a broader context using familiar, non-technical language. 


 Future Data That Makes a Difference Webinars: 

Information about future webinars will be announced as details become available. Visit for more information.  



“It came without ribbons, it came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags.” And he puzzled and puzzled ‘till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more…”

Christmas with greengate Garden Centres always means just a little bit more. While each year greengate outdoes themselves with magazine worthy pre-decorated Christmas Trees, fresh cider daily for their guests and Christmas gift options for every age, they have never forgotten what Christmas is truly about: caring for our fellow Calgarians.

Each year for the past fourteen years, greengate Garden Centres and its owners, the Telford family, have helped Calgarians experiencing homelessness with their “Help the Homeless this Holiday” Campaign. In addition to collecting monetary donations, greengate also serves as a drop-off location for items such as gently used winter wear, recreational activity passes, Calgary Transit bus passes, gifts cards to grocery stores, Tim Hortons gift cards and toiletries.

“As a family, we have been very fortunate and it has always been important to us to give to the less fortunate families and kids in our community,” says Harrington Telford, one of the owners of greengate Garden Centres.  “We also believe it’s important for us to encourage others to give as well which is why we collect donations every year. We love doing it because it makes us feel good.”

The impact of their time and donations is incredible. More than 3 truckloads of clothing, winter jackets and blankets were delivered to agencies, through the Calgary Homeless Foundation, before Christmas last year. Another large load of toiletries, transit passes, gift cards and children’s activity passes were shared amongst the agencies who serve Calgary’s most vulnerable. This year, they hope to be able to give even more.

“We know times are really tough in our community, especially for people who have no place to call home and no shelter during our cold Calgary winters. This is why we have always held our biggest charity campaign over the Christmas season,” shares Harrington. “We are aware of how much the Calgary Homeless Foundation has helped citizens in Calgary through their support of charities that help the homeless and we are very proud to be associated with an organization that does such a great job.”

To learn more about greengate Garden Centres visit


On November 24, 2016, StreetSide Developments: A Qualico company, alongside the RESOLVE Campaign, HomeSpace Society, the Calgary Homeless Foundation and Alpha House, hosted the grand opening of Aurora on the Park. This 25 unit, fully accessible building was constructed specifically to support vulnerable Calgarians experiencing homelessness. Named after the Aurora glow that symbolizes the dawn of a new day, the grand opening was a celebration of the beginning of a new life and a new home for these 25 individuals. Elder Casey Eagle Speaker blessed Aurora’s opening and spoke of the dawning of new hope for these 25 Calgarians who needed it most.


Each of the clients’ homes are designed for wheelchair accessibility and are completely barrier free. The common areas, a space where clients can gather for meals and to socialize, are also fully accessible. While each suite has been built for tenants to be able to cook for themselves, Meals on Wheels will also visit daily to provide tenants with healthy, well rounded meals.

The tenants of Aurora on the Park will receive full support from the Alpha House Society who will be the case manager for the building. This allows tenants to access support twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Aurora on the Park is the third building to be completed in a series of purpose-built apartments that are constructed by Calgary home builders for the Calgary Homeless Foundation through the RESOLVE Campaign and with support from the Government of Alberta. “The partnership of all levels of government, Calgary Home Builders and the RESOLVE Campaign continues to make ending homelessness possible in Calgary,” says Diana Krecsy, President & CEO of CHF. “Aurora on the Park represents more than just an accessible home for 25 individuals experiencing homelessness. It represents hope and a better future for them and for all Calgarians.”

For more information on Aurora on the Park, please visit the RESOLVE Campaign website or read StreetSide Developments’ blog, Grand Opening of Aurora on the Park.

Awhile ago, we developed a short video about ending homelessness.

Our purpose was very clear — we wanted to inspire, motivate and engage community to think about homelessness not as the story of an individual who has made ‘bad’ choices, but as a societal issue that we have the capacity and power to change — when we work together.

When I was meeting with the production company to discuss talent for the video, as in– who should be ‘the voice” — I suggested a young man I’d met at a concert produced by the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre.

Jordan Williams is a talented, compassionate and passionate young musician. He infuses everything he does with the stories and experiences he’s gathered as a young Aboriginal man who has faced homelessness, discrimination and other hard times and allowed the circumstances of his life to forge  him into a kinder, more caring and thoughtful human being.

Jordan Williams shared his voice with us so we could create a video that awoke people to the possibility that they can play a role in ending homelessness. Thank you Jordan for your heartfelt and enthusiastic commitment.

Thanks also to the crew at Foundry Communications for guiding this project into reality. To Paul Long for writing an awesome script and to the team at Six Degrees Music & Production for the awesome sound work — and for creating a space for everyone to feel right at home in the studio!

Want to play your part in ending homelessness?  Here are some ideas on how to get involved.

Volunteer. Emergency shelters are always looking for people to serve meals, sort donations, help clean. Check out Propellus (Volunteer Calgary)– or a similar organization in your area, to find out ways to volunteer, or, contact an agency directly.

Donate. The work we do cannot happen without your support. Please consider CHF as part of your giving plans.

Create — it’s easy to create/host an event that will raise funds for an organization. At the Calgary Homeless Foundation we have the Dinner Party — invite a group of friends for dinner and make a difference. We provide an entire toolkit on how to get the dinner on the table while inspiring your friends to dig into good companionship, conversation, great food and the art of making a difference.

Be a Social Media activist — like our Facebook page (as well as other agencies you know are making a difference in ending homelessness). Share our posts on your social media so your network can connect with our network and… make magic (aka change) happen.

Heed the call–visit the Calgary Homeless Foundation Facebook page, watch the short video Homelessness Doesn’t Stand a Chance, click on Like, and SHARE! (you’ll have to scroll down three or four posts to find the video — it’s pinned so will always be near the top)

And be prepared — there’s a whole lot of gratitude and thankfulness coming your way!

Thank you!

Louise Gallagher, Director, Communications



This year’s Giving Tuesday has kicked off an exciting new development towards ending homelessness in Calgary. Sponsor Energy, an energy retailer that sells electricity and natural gas to socially conscious consumers in Alberta, has the means to turn an ordinary, everyday purchase of electricity and gas into a tool to change the world and they’re doing so one non for profit, one business, one Calgarian at a time.

The Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF) is now Sponsor Energy’s newest Community Partner; this partnership allows a consumer with Sponsor Energy, someone like you, to choose CHF as its recipient charity of choice when they power their home.

“The concept of harnessing a commodity that everyone needs to use daily in order to empower our communities is brilliant,” says Diana Krecsy, President & CEO of the Calgary Homeless Foundation. “We are incredibly grateful to Sponsor Energy for their partnership with us and we are looking forward to what this partnership can bring to those experiencing homelessness in our city.”

Over the next three months, CHF and Sponsor Energy are hoping to inspire 250 homes and five businesses in Calgary to make the switch, while selecting CHF as their charity of choice. For the length of the three month campaign, 100% of the profits from the energy consumption from those who have switched over, is donated to CHF. 50% of the profits post-campaign are donated each month after that for the entire duration of the consumers contract.

“It’s never too late to incorporate what matters,” says Carolyn Martin, CEO of Sponsor Energy. “You can always integrate having an impact on your world and on your community, into your life. Our newest partnerships gives our consumers the power to house those experiencing homelessness.”

You can make the switch. Turning on your lights can transform into a home for someone else. It’s as simple as reaching out and asking how. Be a part of ending homelessness in Calgary.

Click here to sign up today!

For more information, and those who are interested in donating to CHF through the Sponsor Energy partnership are encouraged to contact Ben Crews, Manager, Development at the Calgary Homeless Foundation for more information.

Ben Crews
Manager, Development
Calgary Homeless Foundation

Last week we met with the CHF, Client Action Committee to draft a response letter outlining recommendations for the National Housing Strategy.

Please take a few moments to read what this talented group of individuals submitted, and make your voice heard too!

You have until Friday, October 21st to participate in either an online survey or draft a submission to We encourage you to send an e-mail to your MP, or a tweet using #housing4all and #LetsTalkHousing, along with a copy of CHF’s response, expressing your support for CHF’s recommendations.

Thank you to United Way and Maytree for sharing the Let’s Talk Housing Community Conversations guide that helped our discussion!

Bylaw Community Peace Officers Share Knowledge on Encampment Sites — Written by Madison Smith, CHF Project Coordinator

The skies were clear the morning Bylaw Community Police Officers, Jody St. Pierre and Melanie Thomas graciously opened their vehicle doors for two “observers” to take a look into their daily encounters with homeless encampment sites and individuals who call the sites home. St. Pierre and Thomas make up the only bylaw team which canvass the entire City of Calgary and go by the name Partner Agency Liaison (PAL).

At 7:45 am, I was filling out liability waivers and eyeing the interesting black vest I would soon be sporting with the word OBSERVER clearly printed on the front and back. I had yet to know what exactly I was observing, but I knew I was in good hands. Nick Falvo, director of research and data at the Calgary Homeless Foundation, also accompanied us as an observer on this ‘ride along’.

Homeless encampments are often a result of individuals ‘falling through society’s cracks’. That phrase itself can sound rather cliché, but there are many cracks to fall through when people lack resiliency and access to resources to help them weather life’s ups and downs like our current economic times in Alberta.

Encampments are only one demeanor of the larger set of aspects that contribute to homelessness, street life, and social disorder. The transient nature of individuals pitching tents and tarps often raise issues in the environment, and surrounding community. Homeless encampments encompass diverse forms: tent cities; groups living under bridges, sleeping in parks, C-train stations, along CP Rail tracks, etc.

After a prolonged journey through Calgary’s thick morning traffic, the four of us arrived on the outskirts of an industrial neighbourhood in an overgrown pastoral field. We parked on a gravel road, Melanie Thomas noted the bike laying the grass parallel to the road. “I think Jake* is home!” she said as we followed the path. There was an abandoned and boarded up shed around the corner, and a small grouping of trees and bushes across the way. As we climbed through the branches we arrived at Jake’s ‘home’ which consisted of a large tent with three tarps draped around and above the area. There were bungee cords, plastic table and chairs, a recycling bin, and scrap metal in crates filling the entire camp site. St. Pierre and Thomas presented friendly greetings to Jake, consistent with the compassion I witnessed the PAL team greet all of their known high-functioning campers. Their philosophy and compassionate response is based on a belief that they offer ’a help-up, not a hand-out’.

They asked Jake how his day was going, and informed him that he needs to take down his home due to complaints received by Calgary Police Services. The land he was on did not belong to him. He was trespassing. The support and push for Jake to seek affordable housing options through the Downtown Outreach And Prevention (DOAP) Encampment Team were re-introduced, and he was reminded winter is coming. They handed him a card with resources he could call to help him find housing programs.

Jake was friendly, but politely declined the offer. He had preconceived notions that someone else would be in charge of his life if he was eligible for a housing program. He also only had a bike, and downtown appointments were a challenge to attend. Jake moves his camp regularly, with each move requiring over 30 trips back and forth via his bike. St. Pierre, Thomas, and Jake, mutually decide on a week for everything to be cleaned up. Before leaving, St. Pierre and Thomas asked if Jake needed anything, socks, supplies, coffee? Jake appreciated the thought, but said he was okay. As we left him it struck me that it probably would not be long before the PAL team came across Jake again. I knew they would continue to give him more encouragement to contact outreach teams.

The morning continued with visiting more known camp sites, and even discovering a few unknown. The PAL team saw each individual as a human being in a temporary homeless condition, and treated them with dignity and respect. Likewise, the individuals responded well to the refreshing encouragement to seek support and housing options. I tried to put myself in their shoes, imagining packing all my belongings/house and given just days to disperse and find a new shelter of some sort. The daunting nightmare for me was reality to most of the people we encountered.

Most individuals encountered have exhausted all resources available to them or their conditions (drug use, alcoholism, criminal record) hinder them from accessing available resources (shelters, for example). Others may have chosen the lifestyle because they tell themselves it frees them from competing in a consumerist society, or because it is better than previous living arrangements. However, most residents of homeless encampments say they would rather live in a more conventional routine with their own room and a job.

Homeless encampments impact the entire community. The individuals are subject to unhealthy encampment conditions, such as garbage, hoarding, diseases, and environmental hazards. Encampments also present victimization of the chronically homeless, many sleep with anxious panic that they will be in danger of theft or harm. Concerning the larger community, surrounding businesses fear criminal activity, threat to business viability, illegitimate use of public spaces, and lastly, but most importantly – the cost to society.

There are many costs associated with encampments with the financial burden taxpayers face to perform remedial efforts and the fear of crime most often cited as the most compelling challenges. Ultimately, it is the disheartening crumbling of these vulnerable people in our society and the loss of human potential that costs us the most.

Tuesday, August 30th, was memorable, educational, and extremely eye-opening. I want to thank Jody St. Pierre and Melanie Thomas for their admirable efforts to consistently push for success stories in every individual’s case. I am thankful they shared their knowledge and time with us. I am richer for the experience.

*Not his real name.

The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author, and not necessarily those of the Calgary Homeless Foundation.

This holiday season, greengate Garden Centres is once again offering Calgarians an opportunity to get involved in ending homelessness with their “Help the Homeless this Holiday” Campaign. From December 5 – 14th, everyone is invited to help the Calgary Homeless Foundation and its partner agencies end homelessness by dropping off any of the following donation at greengate. These donations will help families stay warm, provide nourishment, winter activites and transportation for those in need.

  • Calgary Transit Bus passes or tickets;
  • Grocery gift cards;
  • Family activity passes (Calgary Zoo, Heritage Park etc);
  • Any gently used winter wear; and
  • Travel size toiletries