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

Everyone deserves a place to call home which is safe, affordable, secure and appropriate. Please help make this a reality for everyone!

CHF Annual Giving Campaign

Since 2008, when Calgary’s Plan to End Homelessness was launched, the Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF) and its partner agencies in the homeless-serving sector have worked together to bring Calgarians home. Since the launch of the Plan, almost 7,000 people in Alberta have been housed with essential supports to help them thrive in our communities.

This November, multiple families experiencing homelessness in Calgary would have gone another Christmas without a home if it weren’t for the collaboration between CHF and six partner service agencies working with the Calgary Residential Rental Association (CRRA) and several Calgary landlords. Instead, these families will move into a home of their own starting this November through a campaign called “Hope for the Holidays, Celebrate the Season at Home”. This campaign has been specifically designed to permanently house more than 20 parents and children currently living on the streets or in shelters.

“Home provides kids with that sense of security, that sense of belonging,” shares Dustin, a client recently housed through Calgary’s Plan to End Homelessness with his two young children. “Now…we walk down the street and we come up to our building and we can actually say Oh, we’re home. The home is everything to a child, right, just like it’s everything to you. Home is like, the foundation of your family.”

This is just one example of how our community, our homeless-serving agencies and CHF are making a big impact in our fight to end homelessness in Calgary.

There is still much work to be done. We know that close to 16,000 Calgarians are at risk of homelessness. We know we need to house an additional 3,200 people to ensure those experiencing chronic and episodic homelessness do not remain trapped with no way home. And, we know, we cannot do it alone.

Every Calgarian has a role in ending homelessness. In Calgary’s updated Plan to End Homelessness released in March of this year, 14 Key Actions were identified that directly impact our success in ending homelessness. Action 14, Empower Calgarians in the movement to end homelessness, invites every Calgarian to take action and get involved. 

This holiday season, please consider making a gift to Calgary Homeless Foundation, to ensure all Calgarians have a place to call home.

Together, we will end homelessness in Calgary.

Give Hope for the Holidays Now!

Thank you for your generosity of spirit!

Written by Britany Ardelli

Have you ever felt so cold in the midst of winter your face feels frozen, like it can barely move and your legs feel like they are about to crack open? That was me at the Coldest Night of the Year Walk. This was a temporary and voluntary situation for me, but for over 3500 homeless Calgarians this can be a reoccurring feeling that they have to endure.

As I walked into EauClaire Market on Saturday, February 21st 2015 I saw people everywhere wearing matching tuques and dressed as if they were going to the ski hill.  With 400+ registered walkers to help support the Coldest Night Of the Year, I was ready to embark on a committed 5 km walk.

The walk was kicked off by the Raging Grannies singing to encourage city counsellors to vote and pass secondary suites and none other than the greatest mayor in the world, Mayor Nenshi, ensuring every volunteer and participant was thanked for our time and monetary donations.

We were then sent on our way into the cold. It’s quite ironic that it’s called The Coldest Night of the Year, because with a fresh new layer of snow, and a windy -16 degrees, it was for sure the coldest night that Calgary had seen in a few weeks.

Along the walk we had cars honking their horns in encouragement, photographers taking our pictures, and volunteers guiding our way to ensure we followed the path set out. Just over an hour later we were done and we were cold!! The thought that people stay outside all day, and even sleep in these conditions, made me so proud that I raised money and completed the walk! It was great to see the community come together to raise money and support the cause to end homelessness!


Proceeds from the Coldest Night of the Year in Calgary will benefit Feed the Hungry and Acadia Place, a 58 unit affordable housing complex owned by the Calgary Homeless Foundation and operated by CUPS. Through the support of KAIROS, the money donated to Acadia Place will be provided to pay down the mortgage on Acadia Place through the RESOLVE Campaign, a unique collaboration of nine Partner agencies raising $120 million to build affordable and supported rental housing for 3,000 vulnerable and homeless Calgarians, .

Thank you to the Calgary organizers of Coldest Night of the Year: the Calgary Diocese and KAIROS.


We planted flowers yesterday. We raked the lawn, tidied the hedges, swept the walk and laughed and joked and connected as a team and a community.

We were at one of the buildings owned by the CHF to help out with spring cleaning. It was fun and fulfilling and, a nice break from ‘the office’.

And when we finished, we went to a local pub for a late lunch. We laughed and joked and shared in the harmony of having spent some time outside working together.

A year ago, this was a problem location. The neighbours were up in arms. A group of citizens were banding together calling for the shutting down of the Foundation’s housing first program in their neighbourhood.

We had meetings and talks and emails and phone calls. We worked together; the agency that manages the programming in the building and works with the tenants, all of whom have long-term lived experience of homelessness; the police who respond to calls and were concerned by the high level of calls to the building; and the citizen group that was looking for action. We worked with the community, the businesses in the area and the Alderman’s office to find a path to common ground, to that place where the label ‘homeless’ doesn’t equal ‘criminal’, undesirable or any host of other names we throw at people whose lives we do not understand and whose condition often scares us.

This was our second year of planting flowers and gardening at the building. No one came out to help last year. No one came out to chat.

Yesterday, one of the tenants came out and helped us garden.

Yesterday, a woman sat on the front steps and shared snippets of her journey.

Yesterday, a woman chatted from her balcony and told us how pretty the flowers looked. Another man chatted from his balcony and eventually came down to chat some more and have his picture taken. He even asked if he could have a pot of flowers for his balcony.

And as I was leaving, another man called out to me from behind his screen door. “Didn’t you use to work at a shelter?” he asked.

“I did,” I told him.

“I remember you,” he said. And then he shared what it was like to be housed. To have a home. To have a place to call his own. “It’s hard,” he said. “I don’t always remember how to be here.” and then he laughed. A shy, quiet laugh. There was no nervousness in his laugh. No trying to hide some unnamed discomfort. It was an honest commentary on his situation. “It sure is better than where I was,” he added.

And yesterday, at lunch at the local pub, I chatted with the manager with whom the agency from the building and I had met a year ago to talk about his concerns about the building and its tenants. “It’s been quiet since we met,” he said. “The agency has done a fantastic job of dealing with our issues.”

It is always the challenge of this work. Our perceptions. Our fears. Our misconceptions interfere with seeing there is a path to common ground. There is a way to live together in harmony. It may not be ‘normal’, but it can be better than living on separate sides of the equation, fighting each other for our right to stand our ground.

We say, not in my backyard, in the hopes that by declaring our sacred ground, we will not have to step across the line to see the view from someone else’s perspective. We hope that by holding onto our fears, we will not have to drop our guard to acknowledge that we each have a right to find our way home, no matter our condition.

To find common ground, we must let down our guard.

Yesterday, I worked alongside my team on the ground around a building that is home to several formerly homeless Calgarians.

It was a good day for community building.