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.

DOWNLOAD THE SKIPTHEDEPOT APP AND DONATE YOUR BOTTLE REFUND TO CALGARY HOMELESS FOUNDATION (they even pick the bottles up for you!)

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, https://app.skipthedepot.com/calgaryhomelessfoundation, 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, https://app.skipthedepot.com/calgaryhomelessfoundation, 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 www.skipthedepot.com.

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 https://www.datathatmakesadifference.com/ for more information.  

 

By: Joel Sinclair

Significant advances in the battle against homelessness are being won. Since 2008, and the implementation of Calgary’s Plan to End Homelessness, the average number of nightly stays by single adults in Calgary emergency shelters has fallen by 40%.

A Noted Downward Trend

shelterStaysGraph

Analysis published today by the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy clearly illustrates an encouraging downward trend in the use of emergency shelters by single adults. In fact, as much as there is variation in the chart within any given year, the year-over-year number of shelter stays observed has been continually shrinking. This is good news.

Calgary’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness was launched in 2008 by a multi-stakeholder leadership group with the Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF) appointed as the implementer. Since then, Calgary has become a leader in the charge to end homelessness and our city’s homeless-serving community’s grounded approach in the Housing First model has become a world standard for addressing the chronic issues of homelessness in a collaborative, data-driven and forward-thinking way.

Factors to Progress

Factors that have contributed to this downward trend have been noted by Nick Falvo (CHF’s Director of Research and Data), as well as Ron Kneebone and Margarita Wilkins (both with the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy)

“Housing First has always been a core component of Calgary’s Plan to End Homelessness, and our primary focus on housing people with supports reduces the pressure on Calgary’s shelters,” says Diana Krecsy, President and CEO of CHF. “In concert with that, our city’s homeless-serving system of care has continually focused on creating greater housing stability for our clients. Continuous advancements and refinements in program design and measurement have resulted in constant improvements in housing retention, allowing us to achieve an annual housing retention rate of 91% – which means that fewer people are falling back into homelessness or having to rely on the shelter system.”

In addition to Calgary’s homeless-serving community’s successful implementation and execution of these core aspects of Calgary’s Plan, we should also consider the impact that the following components have had on contributing to this downward trend:

Better Triaging: Addressing the needs of our city’s most vulnerable through ground-breaking triage programs such as Coordinated Access and Assessment also means that our clients are moving straight into housing programs and remaining stably housed.

Rental market fluctuation. When rental vacancy rates are high, landlords are often more eager to rent units, as it becomes a ‘renter’s market.’ High vacancy rates in Calgary over the past two years have therefore made it easier for persons experiencing homelessness to access rental units in our city.

Social assistance benefit levels. Benefit levels for Alberta social assistance recipients have increased since 2008.  For example, total annual income received by a ‘single employable’ household receiving social assistance jumped by more than 30% in 2009; and the total annual income for a single adult receiving Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped increased by 30% between 2011 and 2013. Higher incomes have made it easier for persons experiencing homelessness (or people on the verge of experiencing homelessness) to access and maintain rental housing.

What’s next?

With the goal of ending homelessness in our city, it’s vital that, as a community, we continue to focus on increased coordination and collaboration across our homeless-serving system of care. It’s also important that we continue to foster greater integration with ‘big system’ public service care providers.

For agencies at the front line, seeing the positive, measurable results of their efforts founded in data and research matters a great deal.

“We have to give kudos to the shelters in Calgary. They are a vital part of Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care, and we have some really amazing shelters that are serving people when they are in need”, says Krecsy, “The shelters are our emergency department, and they need to be there. But we must also focus on the group of individuals experiencing chronic homelessness – people who have been in there a long time – and get them into the housing and supports they need.”

We have made notable progress in ending homelessness in Calgary, but we can do more. To reach our collective goal we must continue to do the great work we are all doing together, until everyone has a home.

By: Joel Sinclair

Significant advances in the battle against homelessness are being won. Since 2008, and the implementation of Calgary’s Plan to End Homelessness, the average number of nightly stays by single adults in Calgary emergency shelters has fallen by 40%.

A Noted Downward Trend

Shelter Stays Graph

Analysis published today by the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy clearly illustrates an encouraging downward trend in the use of emergency shelters by single adults. In fact, as much as there is variation in the chart within any given year, the year-over-year number of shelter stays observed has been continually shrinking. This is good news.

Calgary’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness was launched in 2008 by a multi-stakeholder leadership group with the Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF) appointed as the implementer. Since then, Calgary has become a leader in the charge to end homelessness and our city’s homeless-serving community’s grounded approach in the Housing First model has become a world standard for addressing the chronic issues of homelessness in a collaborative, data-driven and forward-thinking way.

Factors to Progress

Factors that have contributed to this downward trend have been noted by Nick Falvo (CHF’s Director of Research and Data), as well as Ron Kneebone and Margarita Wilkins (both with the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy)

“Housing First has always been a core component of Calgary’s Plan to End Homelessness, and our primary focus on housing people with supports reduces the pressure on Calgary’s shelters,” says Diana Krecsy, President and CEO of CHF. “In concert with that, our city’s homeless-serving system of care has continually focused on creating greater housing stability for our clients. Continuous advancements and refinements in program design and measurement have resulted in constant improvements in housing retention, allowing us to achieve an annual housing retention rate of 91% – which means that fewer people are falling back into homelessness or having to rely on the shelter system.”

In addition to Calgary’s homeless-serving community’s successful implementation and execution of these core aspects of Calgary’s Plan, we should also consider the impact that the following components have had on contributing to this downward trend:

Better Triaging: Addressing the needs of our city’s most vulnerable through ground-breaking triage programs such as Coordinated Access and Assessment also means that our clients are moving straight into housing programs and remaining stably housed.

Rental market fluctuation. When rental vacancy rates are high, landlords are often more eager to rent units, as it becomes a ‘renter’s market.’ High vacancy rates in Calgary over the past two years have therefore made it easier for persons experiencing homelessness to access rental units in our city.

Social assistance benefit levels. Benefit levels for Alberta social assistance recipients have increased since 2008.  For example, total annual income received by a ‘single employable’ household receiving social assistance jumped by more than 30% in 2009; and the total annual income for a single adult receiving Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped increased by 30% between 2011 and 2013. Higher incomes have made it easier for persons experiencing homelessness (or people on the verge of experiencing homelessness) to access and maintain rental housing.

What’s next?

With the goal of ending homelessness in our city, it’s vital that, as a community, we continue to focus on increased coordination and collaboration across our homeless-serving system of care. It’s also important that we continue to foster greater integration with ‘big system’ public service care providers.

For agencies at the front line, seeing the positive, measurable results of their efforts founded in data and research matters a great deal.

“We have to give kudos to the shelters in Calgary. They are a vital part of Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care, and we have some really amazing shelters that are serving people when they are in need”, says Krecsy, “The shelters are our emergency department, and they need to be there. But we must also focus on the group of individuals experiencing chronic homelessness – people who have been in there a long time – and get them into the housing and supports they need.”

We have made notable progress in ending homelessness in Calgary, but we can do more. To reach our collective goal we must continue to do the great work we are all doing together, until everyone has a home.

During the month of August, we met with the Client Action Committee on multiple occasions to draft a response letter outlining their recommendations for the redesign of the Housing Partnering Strategy.

CHF_CAC

Please take some time to read what this amazing group of individuals submitted, and make your voice heard too!

The deadline to take the survey or submit your own response is August 31, so there is still time to have your voice heard as well! We encourage you to participate with your own thoughts, or forward a copy of CHF’s response, expressing your support for CHF’s recommendations.

The following blog post is a condensed version of Calgary Homeless Foundation’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy Submission. You can read the full submission HERE.

The Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF) submitted recommendations for the redesign of the Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) on Thursday, August 24, 2017.  Through the HPS, the Government of Canada provides support and funding to communities to develop local solutions to homelessness. We applaud the Government of Canada’s Budget 2017 announcement that it would expand and extend funding for the HPS beyond 2018-2019. The Government has tasked an Advisory Committee on Homelessness to provide recommendations for a redesign of an expanded HPS.  A brief summary of our survey response and submission to the Committee is below.

  1. We believe that an expanded HPS should:
  • Make federal and provincial homelessness funding co-ordinated, consistent and transparent;
  • Align HPS fund administration structures to the development/ organizational life stage of a community; and
  • Increase resources, including staffing, for the Homeless Individuals and Families Information System.
  1. CHF data supports the efficacy of the housing first approach to stably house people experiencing homelessness and reduce public systems usage, when properly resourced and implemented.
  2. CHF believes that one way to prevent homelessness is to reduce poverty, and we look forward to recommendations that will soon be made by the advisory committee for a national poverty strategy. We have submitted recommendations of our own as part that process which can be found here.
  3. A number of promising practices at a systems level have had a significant impact on improving housing stability for people experiencing homelessness in Calgary. These include:
  • Coordinating Access and Assessment
  • Providing Training and Accreditation
  • Participation in the Recovery Task Force
  • Membership in Collectives with Aligned Missions
  • Empowering the Client Action Committee

Looking for ways to share your opinions and find out more information?

The Government of Canada’s Advisory Committee on Homelessness is inviting you to join the conversation and participate in online consultation until August 31st.  Find more details here.

Feel free to share our response via e-mail or social media to your local MP and the Advisory Committee on Homelessness.

greengate-photo-mid-december

“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 www.greengate.ca.

blanket-group-shot

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.

casey

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