Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF) is pleased to be named one of the 200+ youth supporting organizations in Alberta that will be a recipient of matched funds through Shaw Charity Classic’s Chip in for Kids campaign.  

CHF currently funds eight youth programs in Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care. Your donation to CHF, through Shaw Charity Classic’s online and text-to-donate platforms results in support for multiple programs, supporting youth in need, in our community.  


About Shaw Charity Classic’s Birdies for Kids 


We are thrilled Shaw Charity Classic is planning to resume this summer. As a result, Shaw Communications Inc. is providing the platform for the community to text-to-donate to over 200 kids and youth supporting organizations, through Shaw Birdies for Kids, presented by Altalink.  

The Shaw Charity Classic has raised over $61 million for more than 200 kids and youth-based charities in Alberta over the past eight years. 



Your $10 donation to Calgary Homeless Foundation, through Shaw’s Chip in for Kids text-to-donate campaign will result in up to $30 of impact.  

Your $10 donation to Calgary Homeless Foundation, through Shaw’s Chip in for Kids text-to-donate campaign will result in up to $30 of impact.


Donations can be made directly to Calgary Homeless Foundation by texting our specific code KIDS047 to 30333. Please note, standard message and data rates may apply. 

 Shaw will match every donation received through the Chip in for Kids text-to-donate campaign, dollar-for-dollar, up to a total of $150,000! This means, you can double the impact of your contribution.  

 But that’s not all! Every donation made directly to Calgary Homeless Foundation will also be matched by the Shaw Charity Classic Foundation. This means that your $10 donation has the potential to grow into $30 of support for youth programs in Calgary.  

 For additional information on the Shaw Charity Classic and text-to-donate platform, please visit shaw.ca/scc. 

 To learn more, visit: Shaw Charity Classic News Release: Shaw Invites Albertans to Chip in For Kids to Support Shaw Charity Classic Charities – https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2021/06/01/2239748/0/en/Shaw-Invites-Albertans-to-Chip-in-For-Kids-to-Support-Shaw-Charity-Classic-Charities.html  


Chip in for Kids

It is with profound sorrow that we must again bear witness to the ongoing tragedy affecting our indigenous peoples. The latest news from Saskatchewan shared by Cowessess First Nation upon confirmation of 751 unmarked graves near Marieval Residential School continues to challenge us, as Canadians, to confront the dark side of our past.  We have a long way to go to fully understand the deep impact of the residential school system on indigenous communities.  

As I reflect on the work we do with our community partners in support of vulnerable populations and, in particular, of individuals of indigenous ancestry, I am reminded of the importance of conducting our work with compassion and humility.    

As a mother, aunt, sister and daughter I literally cannot comprehend the experience of a parent having a child ripped from their home never to return again.  

We all know there is a long way to go and we are strongly committed to our ambition to promote the reconciliation necessary to break down barriers by giving, receiving, listening and reaching out in love.  

I am so glad that our strategy names ‘reaching out in love, because this has never been so needed. 

-Patricia Jones, President and CEO, Calgary Homeless Foundation


Support is available: 

  • Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary: 403-801-7482. Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary’s Elder line is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. for individuals in need of support.  

On Wednesday, May 12, 2021, Calgary Homeless Foundation celebrated its third annual – but first virtual – Trail Blazer Breakfast, in support of our work to guide the fight against homelessness in the city.  

Thank you so much to our sponsors, our speakers, and to all who attended and supported us in this incredible event. You helped raise over $130,000 towards guiding the fight to end homelessness in Calgary! 

Now, more than ever, home is a place of solace and safety, and the event – which attracted over 350 attendees online – proved that the connection, dedication, and shared will to end homelessness is as strong as ever. 

We kicked off this year’s Trail Blazer Breakfast with a distinguished panel on youth homelessness, followed by our keynote speaker, Lieutenant-General (ret) The Honorable Roméo A. Dallaire, who shared his reflections about our shared humanity and what gives him hope for the future. To round it out, we honoured Timothy J. Hearn, the recipient of our 2021 Trail Blazer Legacy Award. 

Again, it is with immense gratitude that we thank our sponsors and speakers, and all the attendees who continue to support our work in guiding the fight against homelessness. With your help, Calgary Homeless Foundation is working towards a future where every Calgarian has a place to call home, with access to the supports they need to thrive. 


“Waking up in the morning and seeing the sun…knowing a communion between humanity and the planet is possible. There is an enormous amount of effort from our youth who want to see humanity thrive, not just survive. I see the young people of our nation wanting to move in and be partners in the decision process and engage in our future. The ultimate hope that I live with is that I live, as you do, in an extraordinary country, a nation that has values and depth sought by so many.”

– General Dallaire, speaking about what gives him hope

Lieutenant-General Dallaire calls on us to recognize the shared humanity that binds us and imposes a duty to help one another. 

Dallaire – who is the founder of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, a global partnership with the mission to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers – also spoke about the ways in which veterans and child soldiers experience homelessness. 

He then shared his reflections on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how we can apply the lessons gleaned from his experiences to our efforts in building healthy communities. 

We thank General Dallaire for sharing his story, and for providing valuable insight that we can apply to our lives and work.  

2021 Trail Blazer Legacy Award: Honouring Calgary leader, Timothy J. Hearn 

Together, we had the privilege of presenting the 2021 Trail Blazer Legacy Award to business and community leader Timothy J. Hearn for his tireless efforts in ending homelessness. 

Thank you, Tim Hearn, for your continued dedication to ending homelessness. You are a true visionary that has had a life-changing impact on the lives of many people, while inspiring countless others to step up to join the charge. Thank you for being a force of lasting change in our community, and beyond.  

Panel Discussion: Ending Youth Homelessness in Calgary 

In 2018, Calgary conducted a Point-in-Time Count to determine the number of people experiencing homelessness in our city on any given night. Of the 2,911 people who were identified during the count, 18% (524) were youth and children. 

Youth homelessness is unique and requires a different approach than that taken in addressing adult homelessness. 

Trail Blazer Breakfast host Dave Kelly – alongside Patricia Jones, President and CEO of Calgary Homeless Foundation – engaged in a discussion with an expert panel on youth homelessness in Calgary. The panel featured:

  • Jeff Dyer, CEO of Trellis; 
  • Soraya Saliba, Executive Director, McMan Youth, Family and Community Services Association, and 
  • Leslie McMechan, Executive Director, Calgary John Howard Society. 

“The key for me, is to address the misconception that youth homelessness is a result of youth behaviour. The fact is, youth are homeless based on our whole community’s systemic barriers, breakdowns and exclusions. Address that and hope returns.”

Jeff Dyer, CEO, Trellis


Thank you! 


 Thank you to our sponsors for helping to make this event a reality.  

The success of this event was largely due to our Trail Blazer Breakfast ambassadors who championed the event. Thank you for generating excitement and spreading the word about the breakfast.   

And to each and every one of our partners, thank you for the life-changing work that you do every day. 

Until next year, thank you for being a part of Calgary Homeless Foundation’s Trail Blazer Breakfast.  


Submitted by: Patricia Jones, President and CEO, Calgary Homeless Foundation and Karen Young, President and CEO, United Way of Calgary and Area.

Over a year into the pandemic, more people are seeking help from the social sector than ever before. According to Distress Centre Calgary, suicide-related crisis contacts were up 41 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019, while over 2,900 people in Calgary are without a home on any given night. With sinking revenues and increasing demand, 78 per cent of charities are turning to innovation to better reach clients and achieve their missions.

For those of us working in the social sector, Canadian Innovation Week reminds us that we need to stay open to experimentation if we want to help those we serve. Innovation doesn’t come with a master plan or a polished strategy. More often than not, it is a set of seemingly random activities that develop into something greater and more permanent, because people and organizations are willing to try things out together.

United Way of Calgary and Area, for example, has created a community impact framework based on research, agency collaboration and feedback, as well as partnerships that arose in an impromptu fashion during the pandemic. This framework will improve the system of care in Calgary by generating more resources for big-picture initiatives, and providing better access to services and supports for people most at risk.

Rapid Care Counselling was a pre-existing program funded by United Way, among others, that included counselling from Catholic Family Service, an agency United Way has been funding for over 40 years. During the pandemic, and as part of the city’s new mental health and addictions strategy, Calgary Homeless Foundation adapted the program with the help of key agency partners to best serve those experiencing homelessness. Sometimes, being able to book a counselling appointment at 3 a.m. can be enough to help you hang on, and this program allows people experiencing homelessness to meet with a counsellor — online or in-person — within three days.

United Way’s AdaptiveYYC, which won the New Normal Ninja award in April 2021 for innovation during the pandemic, is an app that delivers free workplace mental well-being training to organizations who need the support — including agencies on the front-lines — to respond to the pandemic with resilience.

COVID-19 has created more willingness and urgency to test new ideas, and this past year has been rich with projects that demonstrate this new attitude. In March 2020, Calgary Homeless Foundation — with government, HomeSpace Society, The Alex and CUPS — launched the Assisted Self-Isolation Hotel, a 100-unit facility that allowed people experiencing homelessness to self-isolate. From March 2020 and February of this year, 212 individuals and families living at the site have since found their way home.

In partnership with the Ministry of Seniors and Housing and community leaders, United Way is also bringing community-based, senior-serving organizations together around a common vision of healthy aging in the community, and to help seniors live in their own homes as long as possible. Seniors have been greatly impacted during the pandemic, often isolated and without access to critical supports. Healthy Aging CORE Alberta is an online knowledge and learning hub that supports the bigger objectives of the initiative, galvanizing co-operation and co-ordination to enhance the health and well-being of Albertan seniors.

This is only a small snapshot of the work being done. Now more than ever, the social sector has stepped up to find new and powerful ways of working together for shared outcomes, enabling people in need to continue finding the supports and services for their well-being. For those of us working in the social sector, remember: our community needs us. Let’s not worry about who is doing what. Let’s roll up our sleeves to get the work done, for everyone.

Originally published on 05/20/2021 by the Calgary Herald.

Calgary Homeless Foundation is proud to announce that Patricia Jones, President and CEO of Calgary Homeless Foundation, will bring her insights and expertise to a government-led working group tasked with revitalizing downtown Calgary. 

Patricia is one of twelve members appointed to The Calgary Office Revitalization and Expansion (CORE) Working Group, co-chaired by Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation Doug Schweitzer and Calgary-Currie MLA Nicholas Milliken. The working group, which includes representatives from a cross-section of stakeholders, seeks to provide a road map for rejuvenating Calgary’s downtown area so that it remains a vibrant, healthy, and inclusive place for all to live and work.  

“As we build and reimagine a revitalized downtown core, Calgary Homeless Foundation is honoured to continue guiding the fight against homelessness by bringing the perspectives of vulnerable Calgarians to the table,” Patricia says.  

She adds: “I am humbled and privileged to be a part of a group that allows me the opportunity to speak up for Calgarians whose voices may not always be heard. I look forward to collaborating with such a knowledgeable cross-section of Calgarians.” 

Calgary’s downtown vacancy rate has remained at 32.3 per cent throughout the first quarter of 2021 — a stark contrast to a healthy downtown vacancy rate of eight per cent, according to the Government of Alberta. Organizations across Calgary, including the city council, have already undertaken research and planning initiatives that seek to address the issues facing the downtown core.  

The working group will assess existing findings and recommendations presented by the co-chairs, determine their feasibility, engage with Calgarians in town halls over the spring and summer, and provide a clear path forward for all three orders of government and the private sector. The working group is expected to submit its final report to the government by September 30. 

Patricia says the mandate of the working group presents a rare opportunity to address the long-standing deficit in affordable housing in the city.  

Currently, only 3.6% of households in Calgary are supported by non-market housing, compared to 6% of households nationwide. To reach the 2016 national average, Calgary would need to add approximately 15,000 new affordable housing units.    

“With this working group, we have the opportunity to address the needs of all our citizens. Calgary Homeless Foundation has a unique line of sight that enables us to advise governments on innovative solutions for vulnerable Calgarians, so we can thrive together as we move forward.” 

For more information about the working group, please visit the Government of Alberta’s online announcement. 

Rapid Care Counselling quickly connects people to mental health support


COVID-19 has been hard on all of us, but imagine what it’s like when you don’t have a home and are experiencing mental health challenges, all at the same time.

People living without a home or in emergency shelters have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 measures. At the start of February 2021, there were 621 individuals experiencing homelessness, including singles, families, and youth, waiting for housing on Calgary’s triage list. Of these, 78.4 per cent identified mental health challenges or concerns.

“People living without a home are not otherwise okay—invariably, something else is always at play,” says Patricia Jones, President & CEO of Calgary Homeless Foundation.

A new partnership between Calgary Homeless Foundation, Catholic Family Services (CFS), and CUPS (Calgary Urban Project Society) is here to help. Rapid Care Counselling provides rapid access to tailored mental health supports for children, youth, adults, and families in our system of care.

It begins with a CFS team member meeting a participant in a single session to create a care plan that determines the supports they need next. These could include further sessions, connections to a range of community services, or referral into 6- or 12-session counselling with CUPS Shared Care Mental Health counsellors.

This collaboration matches each unique participant’s circumstance and the level of support they need, to get the right help at the right time. Designed to allow participants to connect with a qualified counsellor within just three business days, it provides easy access points that eliminate barriers and connects the client to the program as seamlessly as possible.

The impetus for Rapid Care Counselling arose when our colleagues on the front lines noticed an increase in mental health needs in the homelessness sector early on in the pandemic. We put out an RFP to gauge interest in providing mental health supports, and selected CUPS and CFS to combine forces. The Rapid Care Counselling fills gaps in access to this vital service.

“This pilot means that these individuals can rapidly connect with someone who will tell them they are seen, heard, and that there are people here to help,” says Jones. “This pilot is the first step in connecting the health, housing and homelessness sectors together and start to address the systemic issues contributing to someone’s experience of homelessness.”


“Doris” was a participant in a program that Calgary Homeless Foundation supports. She used substances to help her deal with multiple compounded traumas, and she was also on kidney dialysis. She wanted to overcome her addictions, become eligible for a kidney transplant, and be there to support her children and grandchildren.

Unfortunately, her need for multiple hospital visits every week for dialysis made her ineligible for addiction treatment programs. Program staff worked hard to schedule mental health appointments as long as they did not conflict with her dialysis appointments, but they were inconsistent, and Doris was unable to overcome her addictions.

A program like Rapid Care Counselling could have helped Doris by providing consistent supports that fit with her dialysis schedule. It could have helped her to process her grief and loss in a different way and potentially reduce her need for substances to help escape her trauma. It may or may not have saved her life—but it would have made the end of her life easier.

Trail Blazer Breakfast 2021: Tickets available now!

Keynote Speaker: Lieutenant-General (ret) The Honourable Roméo A. Dallaire

Trail Blazer Breakfast is Calgary Homeless Foundation’s annual marquee fundraiser event. Join us VIRTUALLY on Wednesday, May 12th, 2021, as we connect business and community leaders, philanthropists, thought leaders and members of the homeless system of care – individuals who aren’t afraid to blaze new trails and leverage joint resources and expertise to collectively address the complex social issues of poverty and homelessness in our city.

Click HERE to purchase your tickets today!


Trail Blazer Breakfast 2021 Keynote Speaker: Lieutenant-General (ret) The Honourable Roméo A. Dallaire

As a military commander, humanitarian, senator and author, Roméo Dallaire has elevated our national consciousness. Whether shining a light on the atrocities of the Rwandan genocide, the struggle that he and many other military veterans face with post-traumatic stress disorder, or the recruitment and use of child soldiers, he has felt compelled to set aside his natural reserve to bring national and international attention to situations too often ignored.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to experience a true force of transformative action as he shares impactful leadership lessons and thoughts on the need for trailblazing in Canada – specifically in the areas of mental health and homelessness.


2021 Trail Blazer Legacy Award Recipient: Tim J. Hearn

Calgary Homeless Foundation is pleased to announce Tim J. Hearn as the 2021 Legacy Award Recipient for his dedication to the vision of ending homelessness and his unwavering efforts to use his strengths, influence, and passion to make it a reality. Mr. Hearn is a well-known corporate leader in Calgary. Having served as the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Imperial Oil Limited, he is the current Chairman of the consulting/investment management and philanthropic organization, Hearn & Associates. Mr. Hearn is an inspiring trail blazer and continues to work as a community leader in Calgary on many fronts. We are honoured to recognize him for his commitment to ending homelessness in our city.


2021 Trail Blazer Breakfast Event Emcee: Dave Kelly

Dave Kelly is the owner and Chief Creative Officer at Kelly Brothers Productions and a seasoned host. Dave’s ability to spark lively conversation with warmth and humour will be sure to make the 2021 Trail Blazer Breakfast the most memorable to date.

Dave Kelly is an award-winning host, writer, and interviewer who creates intelligent and deeply human moments for events and keynote conversations around the world. He is the host of Dave Kelly Live – Canada’s own talk-variety show. Ellen Degeneres selected Dave as the moderator and interviewer for her multi-city tour across Canada. He recently hosted a conversation with President Barack Obama in Calgary and former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in Montreal. Dave is the co-founder of Kelly Brothers Productions, an award-winning video and entertainment company.

2021 Trail Blazer Breakfast: Sponsorships, Tickets & (Virtual) Tables

For information about sponsorships, tickets, and tables, visit: http://trailblazeryyc.com/trailblazer-breakfast/

Thank you to the current 2021 Trail Blazer Sponsors:

  • Presenting Sponsor: NOVA Chemicals
  • Speaker Sponsor: Jim Stanford
  • Literary Champion: ATB Financial

The following sponsor levels are still available:

  • Virtual Sponsor
  • Gratitude Package Sponsor
  • Host Sponsor
  • Trail Blazer Sponsor
  • Humanitarian Sponsor

All virtual guests will receive a Trail Blazer Breakfast Gratitude Package delivered a day or two before the event.

Items will include:  

  • Delicious continental breakfast with morning pastries, yogurt, berry and granola parfait, and lemon meringue blueberry energy bites.
  • A book written by our keynote speaker, General Dallaire.
  • Plus, other surprise items!

Trail Blazer Breakfast

WHEN: May 12, 2021

WHERE: Virtual Event

TIME: Breakfast Prelude 7:30 AM – 8 AM | Virtual Program 8 AM – 9:30 AM

For more information about the Virtual 2021 Trail Blazer Breakfast, visit: https://www.trailblazeryyc.com/

For questions related to the Trail Blazer Breakfast, please contact Teresa Hiser, Development Manager at 403-718-8534 or trailblazeryyc@calgaryhomeless.com.


We look forward to connecting with you at the event!

Musical duo donates t-shirt sales



Misgana and Ans own a local clothing company, and have direct a portion of their sales to Calgary Homeless Foundation.

At Calgary Homeless Foundation, we’re inspired by you – our community donors – and we’re always eager to know why you connect to our work and how you learned about us. That’s why when we received a large donation from a new donor at the beginning of February, we just had to find out more about their story.

Misgana – who goes by Mizzy – and Ans own a clothing brand, originally founded to sell merchandise to accompany their music. Like their music, their clothing is an expression of their creativity. To eliminate profit as a motivator when creating a new design, they decided to direct all proceeds from the sale of a t-shirt to Calgary Homeless Foundation.

“We just wanted to do something really creative and make something unique,” says Mizzy. “Making a fundraiser just allowed us to forget about profit and focus on the creativity.”

Mizzy screen-printed nearly 100 shirts in his bedroom before launching the design on the duo’s website. They approached several local businesses, who featured the design in their storefronts. Within a few days, the design had sold out.

“I’m not originally from Calgary, but every time I came here, everyone told me how cold it was,” explains Ans. “When you’re driving around, and you see people on the streets, you’re always wondering how they get by. We wished we could all do something, so we chose to direct the proceeds towards homelessness.”

“We’re at a place where we can pay our bills, but it wasn’t always like that,” adds Mizzy. “I think when you get to a place like that, you shouldn’t forget people who don’t have as much as you. It’s better for your heart, and when you go out of your way to help someone else, it lifts everyone up. The whole place gets better.”

Ans and Mizzy appreciated the opportunity to use their passion to benefit the community. The campaign also expanded their skillset. They learned how to manage the high product volume, and as the t-shirts began to sell, they were encouraged by the local support. They found their customer base got excited about the t-shirt design and felt good about contributing to a local cause.

“Everyone wishes they could get to a place in their life where they can help people. The truth is, that’s not how it works” says Ans.

“You don’t have to be making a specific amount or be in a certain spot to take care of people. If you are helping one person, you never know how that will impact others.”

Throughout the past year, we have experienced collective challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic unlike anything many of us have witnessed in our lifetime. But together, we have also experienced resiliency, humility, a newfound gratitude for connection, and a heightened awareness of the importance of a home for health and well-being.

As we reflect on this past year, we not only focus on the hardships, but also the silver linings and the dedicated work of all the agencies within Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care

Throughout the pandemic, we have worked alongside community and government partners to continue our unwavering dedication to implementing innovative, housing-focused solutions for those we serve.

Below are ten key noteworthy accomplishments that have taken place over the past year:

  1. (March 2021) Since March 2020, as a result of the community’s dedicated efforts, more than 1,640 individuals and families in Calgary are no longer experiencing homelessness. Read more HERE.
  2. (February 2021) Calgary Homeless Foundation, CUPS and Catholic Family Service launched a new Rapid Care Counselling pilot to connect Calgarians experiencing homelessness with mental health supports. Read more HERE.
  3. (February 2021) Through a joint effort between Calgary Homeless Foundation, HomeSpace Society, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, City of Calgary, philanthropists David and Leslie Bissett, and community support agencies, Legacy on 5th opened its doors to welcome 74 vulnerable Calgarians home. Read more HERE.
  4. (November 2020) In partnership with Calbridge Homes, HomeSpace Society, Enviros, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, the Government of Alberta and the City of Calgary, The Triveri House opened its doors in time for the holidays, welcoming 38 homeless and vulnerable youth home. Read more HERE.
  5. (November 2020) With support from NOVA Chemical and the Poelzer Family Foundation Fund, Calgary Homeless Foundation announced the launch of the community data hub — an initiative that streamlines work for agencies and provides a fuller picture of people’s needs on their journey home. Read more HERE.
  6. (October 2020) In partnership with Logel Homes and Cardel Homes, HomeSpace Society, McMan Calgary & Area, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Government of Alberta, and the City of Calgary, The James House opened its doors to welcome 27 formerly homeless Calgarians, home. Read more HERE.
  7. (September 2020) The Kootenay Lodge bridge housing program was opened in partnership with The Mustard Seed and HomeSpace Society, allowing individuals to quickly move from shelters to a home. Read more HERE.
  8. (August 2020) Calgary Homeless Foundation welcomed Patricia Jones, as the new President and CEO. Read more HERE.
  9. (June 2020) Calgary Homeless Foundation and Calgary Drop-In Centre launched a transitional housing building to move people into a safe living space while they await permanent housing. Read more HERE.
  10. (April 2020) Calgary Homeless Foundation, HomeSpace, Alberta Health Services, Government of Alberta, CUPS and The Alex collaborated to launch Assisted Self-Isolation Site for Calgarians experiencing homelessness. Read more HERE.

This International Women’s Day, #ChooseToChallenge the gender inequity arising in the experience of homelessness.

Women face unique challenges when they do not have a home. Read on to learn more – and consider supporting some of the women-serving organizations in Calgary listed below.

FACT: Women are less likely to be recognized in homelessness data[1]

According to Calgary’s 2018 Point-in-Time Count, 25% of the nearly 3,000 Calgarians experiencing homelessness were women.

Source: 2018 Point-in-Time Count Report

However, homeless counts may significantly underestimate the number of women experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity because women are more likely to seek shelter with family, friends, or partners to survive, even if these arrangements are precarious or dangerous.[2]  

Source: Schwan, et al., (2020)

Knowing less about the true extent of women’s experiences of homelessness means that it is harder to reach them with the help and supports they need.

FACT: The rate of women-led households in core housing need in Canada is almost double the rate of men-led households. [3]

Of the 1.7 million people experiencing core housing need in Canada in 2016, 28% of these were women-led households – almost double the rate of men-led households (16%).

FACT: 68% of shelter beds in Canada are co-ed or dedicated to men, compared to 13% for women.[4]

Research shows that many women may avoid mainstream homeless shelters because they do not feel safe.

According to a Calgary-based study, four key factors helped women exit homelessness: safety, time, a community of women with similar experiences, and a supportive environment and resources to recover from trauma.[5] A lack of dedicated shelter beds—and the feeling of security it brings—means that women may have a harder time exiting homelessness.

FACT: Homelessness is uniquely dangerous for women

According to national data, 91% of women who have experienced homelessness have also experienced assault in their lifetime,[6] with 37% experiencing a sexual assault compared to 8% of men. This can mean that women feel safer remaining in a violent or exploitative relationship than on the streets or in shelters.[7]

FACT: Women without homes also experience menstruation inequity.

The high cost of sanitary products and the lack of privacy makes it difficult to manage the physical and emotional aspects of a period while experiencing homelessness. According to Rhian, who has experienced homelessness, “When it was hurting a lot, I just had to sit down for a bit, just on the bench. I had nowhere else I could go.”[8]

The Women’s Centre of Calgary is accepting personal care donations during office hours.

Source: Schwan, et al., (2020)

Events in our community:

The United Way of Calgary and Area is hosting the Choose to Challenge discussion about creating a more equitable world on March 8 at noon.

The Women’s Centre of Calgary is holding an International Women’s Day Online Celebration on March 8 at 6 p.m.

Hear from women advocates and leaders, including the founders of The51 at Financial Feminism: Sharing the Wealth on March 8 at 4 p.m.

If you want to support women experiencing homelessness, please consider supporting the following organizations:

Aboriginal Friendship Centre
Alcove Addiction Recovery for Women
Aventa Centre of Excellence for Women with Addictions
Awo Taan Healing Lodge
Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association
Calgary Pregnancy Care Centre
Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter
Elizabeth Fry Society
Elizabeth House
Highbanks Society
Next Step Ministries
Recovery Acres Society
RESET Society of Calgary
Rowan House
Sonshine Community Services
Sunrise Healing Lodge
The SHARP Foundation
Wheatland Crisis Society
Women In Need Society
Women’s Centre of Calgary
YWCA of Calgary

[1] Schwan, K., Versteegh, A., Perri, M., Caplan, R., Baig, K., Dej, E., Jenkinson, J., Brais, H., Eiboff, F., & Pahlevan Chaleshtari, T. (2020). The State of Women’s Housing Need & Homelessness in Canada: Executive Summary. Hache, A., Nelson, A., Kratochvil, E., & Malenfant, J. (Eds). Toronto, ON: Canadian Observatory on Homelessness Press.

[2] Maki, K. (2017). Housing, homelessness, and violence against women: A discussion paper. Women’s Shelters Canada. Retrieved from https://homelesshub.ca Bretherton, J. (2017). Reconsidering Gender in Homelessness. European Journal of Homelessness, 11(1), 1-21.

[3] Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. (2019b). What We Heard The Unique Housing Needs of Women. National Housing Strategy. Retrieved from https://www.placetocallhome.ca

[4] Employment and Social Development Canada. (2019a). Highlights of the National Shelter Study 2005 to 2016. Ottawa. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca

[5] Sarah Fotheringham, Christine A. Walsh & Anna Burrowes (2014) ‘A place to rest’: the role of transitional housing in ending homelessness for women in Calgary, Canada, Gender, Place & Culture, 21:7, 834-853, DOI: 10.1080/0966369X.2013.810605

[6] McInnes, S. (2016). Fast Facts: 4 things to know about women and homelessness in Canada. Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. Retrieved October 21 2018 from www.policyalternatives.ca

[7] Walsh, C. A., Rutherford, G. E., & Kuzmak, N. (2009). Characteristics of Home: Perspectives of Women Who Are Homeless. The Qualitative Report, 14(2), 299-317. Watson, J. (2011). Understanding survival sex: Young women, homelessness and intimate relationships. Journal of Youth Studies, 14(6), 639-655.

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