Use your vote to advocate for those experiencing homelessness by checking out the positions of the mayoral and councillor candidates on affordable housing, income, harm reduction and mental health issues. We’ve compiled a few of them from below, taken from campaign websites or requests for comment.

Read more

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.

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.

Provincial count drops 31% since 2008 in 2nd 7 cities Point-in-Time Count of Homelessness

In the second biennual province-wide Point-in-Time Count of Homelessness (Count), the number of people in Alberta staying in emergency shelters, short term supportive housing and hotels used as emergency shelters as well as correctional facilities was 5373, down 19% from the previous Count in October 2014 and 31% from 2008 when Alberta’s Plan to End Homelessness was launched.

In Calgary, the total Count was 3222, an almost 11% decrease from its peak in 2008 when Calgary’s Plan to End Homelessness (Calgary’s Plan) was launched. Calgary’s Count includes data collected by over 100 volunteers on the streets conducting surveys of those they encountered. This report does not include Alberta Health Services (AHS) data and observational tallies by volunteers of those they counted as homeless but were unable to survey. The Final Report, to be released in early 2017, will include more comprehensive demographic data as well as numbers from AHS.

Year-over-year growth in homelessness stopped

Prior to 2008, when Calgary’s Plan was launched, the city was experiencing a biennial increase in homelessness of 35%. Since 2008, over 8,000 people have been housed, growth in homelessness has halted and is on a downward trend. This year’s count shows a decline in overall homelessness on a per capita basis of 26% since 2008.

“Calgary has done what no other urban city has- reversed our past trend of increasing homelessness by 35% every two years to an astounding decline of 9% this year,” says Krecsy. “Calgary’s Plan is working because of local sector leadership, continued rigor, focus and collaboration. But make no mistake, Calgary remains in harm’s way. We need greater systems integration  between Health, Alberta Health Services and Justice with the Homeless Serving System and enhanced community based supports for our cities most vulnerable (health, mental health, addictions, affordable housing).”

Calgary remains epicentre of homelessness in province

As in the 2014 Count, Calgary continues to be the epicentre of homelessness in the province. Whereas the 2014 Count showed Calgary accounting for 54% of the total Provincial Count, this year’s Count shows Calgary represents 60% of the total provincial Count of 5373. “The good news is, homelessness is down across the province,” says Diana Krecsy, President and CEO, the Calgary Homeless Foundation. “What we are doing is working. The challenge is, in spite of continued progress throughout the homeless-serving sector, Calgary continues to not have enough appropriate housing for its vulnerable citizens.”

Calgary’s position as the epicentre is attributable to socio-economic factors unique to Calgary, primarily, one of Canada’s highest unemployment rates for a major urban centre (10.2%) and continued high cost of rental housing despite increased vacancy rates, particularly for those with lower incomes. “Calgary does a great job of serving people experiencing homelessness and with providing a strong network of services and supports to move people quickly into appropriate housing at the right time,” says Krecsy. “But it’s not enough for the number of people who continue to need our support because of economic factors over which they have no control.”

Second province-wide Count shows strength of coordinated approach to ending homelessness.

The province-wide Count dropped by 19.2% from 2014 to 2016. Since 2008 this represents a 31% decrease in homelessness across the province and a decrease of approximately 11% in Calgary since Calgary’s Plan to End Homelessness was launched in 2008.

The Count was coordinated by the 7 Cities on Housing and Homelessness in Calgary, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer, and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. The 7 Cities represent the lead organizations responsible for the implementation of local Plans to End Homelessness within each city. They coordinate at a systems level and align funding resources for greater impact and progress towards a shared vision of ending homelessness in Alberta.

In the first province-wide Count, 7 Cities members conducted their individual Counts over a week long period. This year’s Count was held on the same evening, October 19th, between 7pm to midnight in all 7 Cities with some cities counting on the morning of October 20th as necessary.

The Count serves two important functions: it provides a current snapshot of the demographics and number of people experiencing homelessness in the province as well as individual cities, and provides a snapshot of changes in homelessness over time. By aligning methods across Alberta, the 7 Cities on Housing and Homelessness can examine trends using similar definitions. Ultimately, this helps to inform solutions, policies and best practices to support the goal of ending homelessness in Alberta.

A Snapshot of Calgary’s Count

A total of 3,222 people were enumerated on the night of the count. Preliminary results show:

  • Unsheltered 5%
  • Emergency Sheltered 45%
  • Justice System 6%
  • Interim Housing & Other (ie. hotels/motels used as emergency shelter/short-term housing) 44%
  • 75% male; 25% female
  • Indigenous 20%; Non-indigenous 80%
  • 45 years of age and over 44%
  • 25-44 years of age 36%
  • 24 years of age and under 20%

In addition to the numbers reported in this document, Calgary counts individuals encountered outside who are not able to give consent to volunteers to complete surveys as part of the Count. This requires volunteer teams to use their discretion as to who is, or is not, homeless. We also collect data from emergency and inpatient services at Calgary facilities. These numbers were not complete at time of this preliminary report and will be included in a forthcoming final report in early 2017.

The Provincial Preliminary Report can be viewed HERE.

All 7 Cities Reports can be viewed HERE.

Calgary’s report can be viewed HERE.

website_post_banner_sponsor_2016

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
ben@calgaryhomeless.com

Our Position on the National Housing Strategy

 

The Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF) supports a National Housing Strategy and is grateful for the opportunity to provide input. We strongly believe that for the Strategy to be an effective tool to further the vision of ending homelessness, it needs to provide specific measures to address the specialized needs for housing with supports for vulnerable and homeless citizens, including Indigenous peoples.

The development of a National Housing Strategy will have a positive and lasting impact on our collective vision of ending homelessness in Calgary. As a community, Calgary’s Plan to End Homelessness: People First in Housing First, identifies the need to address the current gap for 15,600 Calgarian households in extreme core housing need. We are pleased the government is taking action. We encourage our community partners to join the conversation share this with your social networks and participate in the survey and/or submit a written response by October 21, 2016. For more information please see our six recommendations for inclusion into the National Housing Strategy and our Key Supporting Statistics.

A highlight of our recommendations are listed below:

CHF supports a National Housing Strategy that will deliver safe, suitable and secure housing to every Canadian.

  • All Canadians deserve a decent place to live.
  • Canada is significantly behind in comparison to other OECD countries in providing social housing.
  • The National Housing Strategy (Strategy) should protect, preserve and improve existing low-income/social housing stock and build capacity in the non-profit housing sector to deepen financial sustainability, asset management and renewal.
  • Provide tax incentives for the creation of new rental stock.
  • The Strategy needs to guarantee access to affordable housing appropriate for low income, vulnerable populations and Indigenous Peoples, especially in major urban centres where evidence shows greater prevalence of homelessness.

A National Housing Strategy must specifically address the specialized needs of Canadians experiencing homelessness and strengthen the vision of ending homelessness in Canada.

  • The Strategy must link housing for Canadians exiting homelessness with the adequate and appropriate supports required for this population to remain stably housed and integrated into community.
  • Studies show that there are significant cost savings associated with the provision of housing with supports for people experiencing homelessness.
  • Funding for programs that provide housing first supports specific to Canadians experiencing homelessness, should be increased to provide real and possible advancement towards ending homelessness.
  • The Strategy must safeguard the economic, social and cultural rights of vulnerable populations, including Indigenous Peoples.
  • The Strategy needs to address the gap for the over 1.5 million Canadian households in core housing need.
    • There are approximately 15,600 households in Calgary in extreme core housing need.

Public Social Expenditure must increase to ensure cycles of poverty and homelessness are not repeated, especially for vulnerable Canadians.

  • Greater public social expenditure on anti-poverty initiatives, including housing and income assistance can strengthen Canada’s social welfare system and help prevent and reduce homelessness.

Please take 10 minutes to fill out the survey, share this with your social networks and encourage everyone to include their voice in the conversation.  The online survey is open to the public until October 21, 2016. More details can be found HERE.

To view our six recommendations for inclusion into the National Housing Policy, click here to download our brief.

Click here to read a blog post written by Calgary Homeless Foundation’s Director of Research and Data, Nick Falvo, on ten things to know about Canada and our National Housing Strategy.

By Nick Falvo, Ph.D, Director, Research and Data, Calgary Homeless Foundation

Canada’s federal government has begun national consultations on the development of a “national housing strategy.” The government is expected to release a report on November 22, which is also National Housing Day.  The consultation web site is called “Let’s Talk Housing.” It includes the consultation’s stated vision, principles, themes, intended outcomes and key dates.

Here are 10 things to know:

  1. In Canada, social expenditure by government—measured as a percentage of GDP—is considerably less than the OECD average. According to OECD figures, Canada’s total public social expenditure is approximately 17% of GDP, while the OECD average is almost 22%. (To see these figures for yourself, check out the OECD web site here.)  To put this into perspective, every 1% of GDP translates into approximately $560 per Canadian per year.  Public social expenditure includes spending on social housing and social assistance (i.e. welfare, disability benefits).  A full list of items included in these OECD figures can be found here.
  1. Canada has considerably less social housing per capita than most OECD countries. The percentage of housing units in Canada that are considered social housing (i.e. government-subsidized units for low- and moderate-income households) is approximately 5%.  To put this into perspective, England’s rate is 18%, France’s is 19%, Sweden’s is 32% and the rate for the Netherlands is 34%.[1]
  1. Historically, when Canada’s federal government has led on social housing, provinces and territories have followed with spending of their own. When it comes to subsidized housing for low- and moderate-income households in Canada, the leadership role of the federal government is important.  Indeed, when the federal government has offered matching dollars for new social housing units, provincial and territorial governments have typically agreed to match that spending with funding of their own.  And at times when such federal matching funding has not been offered, provinces and territories have typically not offered funding of their own.  Put differently, the role of the federal government matters.  A recent illustration of this can be found in the evaluation of the Affordable Housing Initiative; it found that not only did provinces, territories and third parties match federal contributions, they actually exceeded federal contributions!
  1. Every year, Canada’s non-profit housing sector as a whole gets less money than the year prior to operate existing units of social housing. In other words, funding agreements are starting to expire.  In most cases, funding from government that flows to non-profit housing entities through these agreements is required in order to keep the housing maintained.  Put differently, as a lot of these agreements expire, the non-profit entity in question will be forced to ‘sell off’ some housing units. (For a quick overview of this phenomenon, see this two-minute video; for a more nuanced consideration, see this PowerPoint presentation.)[2]  It was therefore welcome news for many non-profit housing providers when this year’s federal budget announced a funding extension “for all federally administered housing co-operatives with agreements expiring between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2018.”
  1. It’s become common for senior levels of government to express public support for housing first; sometimes this talk is accompanied by funding support, sometimes it isn’t. The Harper government made frequent mention of housing first (i.e. the immediate provision of permanent housing to homeless persons) over the years, including in the 2013 throne speech.  But under the Harper government, annual federal funding for homelessness saw a steady erosion.  In fact, by the time the Harper government left office, annual federal homelessness funding (i.e. the annual value of the Homelessness Partnering Strategy) was worth just 35% of its 1999 value after adjusting for inflation.  In this year’s federal budget, the Trudeau government announced substantial (but time-limited) increases in funding for housing and homelessness.  During the “Let’s Talk Housing” consultations, advocates may want to praise the Trudeau government for increasing this funding, while also recommending that funding for the Homelessness Partnering Strategy be permanently restored to 1999 levels (which would raise its annual value to $349 million).
  1. Very little rental housing has been built in Canada in the past three decades; this wasn’t the case in prior decades. In the 1960s and 1970s, tens of thousands of new rental housing units were built each year across Canada.  Some of these units were owned by for-profit landlords, some by non-profit landlords.  Many involved one type of subsidy or another from senior levels of government.  All were built in partnership with the private sector.  In the 1980s, with the onset of neoliberalism, Canada’s federal government started to ‘pull back’ its assistance. (For a bit more nuance on this, see point #6 in this blog post.  And for a compelling visual representation of this historical trend, see slide #2 in this presentation.)  A positive way forward on this would be for the federal government to seriously consider implementing proposals made in this 2015 advocacy paper commissioned by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.  Among other things, the paper recommended the introduction of federal tax incentives for new units of rental housing.
  1. On a per capita basis, Alberta has approximately half the number of rental housing units as the rest of Canada. Today, Alberta has approximately 28 apartment rental units per 1,000 people.  By contrast, Canada as a whole has 54 apartment rental units per 1,000 people.  That’s a large gap between Alberta and the rest of Canada…one that has grown in the past 25 years.[3]  One likely contributing factor here has been large in-migration to Alberta over the past several decades (which makes the denominator here larger).  Another is higher incomes in Alberta, which reduce demand for rental stock (because when it comes to housing, higher-income households tend to prefer buying over renting).
  1. Relative to the rest of Canada, Alberta has very few subsidized housing units. As of 2011, Alberta was home to 10% of all Canadian households, but had just 7% of all subsidized housing units (for a visual representation of this discrepancy, see Annex figure 1 on page 8 of this report).  I think at least two factors have led to this discrepancy.  First, in years past, some Alberta governments weren’t big fans of subsidized housing for low-income households (by contrast, the current provincial government recently announced the near doubling of provincial spending on housing).  Second, as mentioned above, Alberta has experienced rapid population growth over the past several decades.  In fairness to previous Alberta governments though, between 2002 and 2013, Alberta played some ‘catch up’ to the rest of Canada in the realm of subsidized housing (for more on this, see point #5 in this blog post).
  1. Any national housing strategy should prioritize the housing needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis persons. As of 2011, approximately 13% of Canadian households were considered to be in core housing need.  By contrast, approximately 19% of all Indigenous (i.e. First Nations, Inuit and Métis) households were considered to be in core housing need.  For Inuit households, the figure is 34%.  It’s also no secret that First Nations, Inuit and Métis persons are overrepresented among persons experiencing absolute homelessness in Canada.
  1. The Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF) has submitted its own brief as part of the national consultation.  It calls for increased public social expenditure, including increased spending on social housing and supportive housing specifically.  It also calls for stable and predictable funding for non-profit housing providers, the need for increased rental stock generally and the need to focus specifically on the housing needs of First Nations, Inuit and Métis persons.  The CHF’s brief, and official response, can be viewed here.

[1] I’ve taken these figures from Steve Pomeroy’s May 2013 presentation titled “The fundamentals of housing policy & governance: A condensed, one-day course” taught at Carleton University.  Mr. Pomeroy’s primary data source was CECODHAS Housing Europe.

[2] Each year, there is usually some funding from senior orders of government (for example, funding available through this program) to develop new housing units, but typically not enough to make up for the loss of housing stock caused by the expiration of funding agreements that were signed decades previously.

[3] These figures are based on calculations made earlier this year by my colleague, Janice Chan.  She used rental housing figures from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and population statistics from Statistics Canada.

By Nick Falvo, Ph.D, Director, Research and Data, Calgary Homeless Foundation

A recent news article serves as a reminder of the crucial role that can be played by the federal government in ending homelessness.  The article in question discusses a scenario in which a Calgary man who’d been living for five years at the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre was finally able to access permanent housing once he turned 65.  According to the article, reaching the age of 65 meant that the man was “now eligible for Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement, and that helped him secure a spot in the Calgary Drop-In’s affordable apartments.”

Indeed, reaching age 65 in Canada generally means a substantial ‘pay raise’ for social assistance recipients, and that’s the topic of a recent study I co-authored that was published by How Ottawa Spends, an annual publication of Carleton University’s School of Public Policy and Administration.  The study’s other co-authors were Allan Moscovitch and David Macdonald.

The study argues—among other things—that if the age of eligibility for Old Age Security were to move from 65 to 67 (a policy which the former federal government had announced, but that the current federal government has since reversed course on) the percentage of Canadians aged 65 and 66 living in poverty would see a very substantial rise.  In the study, we estimate the rise in poverty with the help of Statistics Canada’s Social Policy Simulation Database and Model.

A lengthy blog post which provides a good summary of the study can be found here.  The study itself can be found here.

 

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

To be involved with an Organization such as Vibrant Communities Calgary and the Enough for All Strategy’ has meant many things on many levels to me both in a personal level and in a professional capacity.

I have lived in Poverty for many years and at that time I did not realize the implications of what that meant on the overall Community until I became Homeless. I studied and had conversations with my many peers and colleagues and became involved in Community Engagement.  It was then I realized the deep implications that Poverty can have on individuals, families and Calgary.  When I was invited to join Poverty Talks! and learned more about the E4A strategy, I soon came to the conclusion that Poverty affects many walks of life in many different capacities.

I have attended many events in the Community relating to Poverty.

  • Many Voices: Conversations about Poverty
  • Soul of the City 14: Poverty, Perspective and the Opportunity
  • The Sliding Scale Proposal to the City of Calgary Standing Policy Committee
  • The Payday Lending Proposal to Calgary City Council regarding a Bylaw for Payday Lenders not to gain a Business License within 400 metres from other Lenders operating in the same City Block
  • Community Conversations: Basic Needs regarding Goal 3 from the E4A
  • Payday Lending and Financial Inclusion Task Force with the City of Calgary

I have also participated and worked with the Client Action Committee of the Calgary Homeless Foundation.

  • The Longest Night of the Year – The first Celebration of Life and Memorial for those in our Community who have passed while Homeless and/or living on the Streets. Interviewed with Global Calgary in regards to this event
  • The Homeless Vote – Mock Election for the Homeless in Calgary to exercise their voice in the October Federal election. With the initiative, the first ever Polling Station was set-up in a Homeless Shelter in Canada
  • I have been selected as a Keynote Speaker at the upcoming 7 cities Conference on Housing First and Homelessness in May of 2016

I also served on the Payday Lending and Financial Inclusion Task Force mandated by the Mayor and City Council.

  1. Work with other levels of governments, agencies and organizations to develop recommendations to protect financially vulnerable from payday lending practices
  2. Influence financial institutions to re-engage low income earners with the ability to access short term small loans, and financial counselling

There are 12 people on the task force including 3 credit unions, VCC, Momentum, Sunrise Community Link, CUPS as well as someone who represents the payday lenders. The challenge was to find some common ground and develop recommendations that will help people who find themselves in need of short term, small loans.  This work is vitally important to Calgary so all in our Community can have a greater Quality of Life for ourselves, our children and Grandchildren.

As of last year in the spring, I have taken courses in Non Profit Management at Mount Royal University and I am also taking the ‘Working with Homeless Population’ at the University of CalgaryA joint collaboration with the Faculty of Social Work and The Calgary Homeless Foundation.  Shortly I am going to apply to take a Social Work Diploma at Bow Valley College.

The Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness is having its fourth annual national conference in November and as such I have applied for a Lived Experienced Scholarship to attend.

In conclusion, I am a driven woman, impassioned by the belief that Homelessness and Poverty will end or at least be significantly reduced in our great City.  I will be there to see this happen.

Favorite Quote:

“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one” Mr. Spock – The Wrath of Khan

*Submitted and written by a grateful member of the Client Action Committee.