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
Carya
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.

[8] Vora S. (2020) The Realities of Period Poverty: How Homelessness Shapes Women’s Lived Experiences of Menstruation. In: Bobel C., Winkler I.T., Fahs B., Hasson K.A., Kissling E.A., Roberts TA. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Menstruation Studies. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-15-0614-7_4

Calgary’s homeless-serving sector is launching another innovative partnership that will pair participants in the Homeless-Serving System of Care with mental health supports when they need it most.  

There are currently 621 individuals, families and youth experiencing homelessness who are awaiting housing on Calgary’s triage list. Of these individuals, 78.4 per cent have identified mental health challenges or concerns. 

To support these individuals, Calgary Homeless Foundation, CUPS, and Catholic Family Service (CFS) are launching Rapid Care Counselling, a collaborative pilot that efficiently connects people in shelters and supportive housing with virtual or in-person mental health supports best suited to their needs. 

“People living without a home are not otherwise okay – invariably, something else is always at play. It can happen to anyone,” said Patricia Jones, President and CEO, Calgary Homeless Foundation. “This pilot means individuals can rapidly connect with someone who will tell them they are being seen and heard, and there are people here to help. It is the first step in connecting the health, housing, and homelessness sectors together and addressing the systemic issues contributing to someone’s experience of homelessness.” 

In May 2020, in response to increasing mental health needs arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, Calgary Homeless Foundation issued an RFP to gauge interest in providing mental health supports for individuals experiencing homelessness.  

After a competitive RFP process, CUPS and CFS were selected to collaboratively pilot the Rapid Care Counselling program. This pilot is designed to support participants within Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care with low-barrier mental health supports. The pilot will serve people who have previously, or are currently experiencing homelessness, including children, youth, adults, and families in emergency shelters and Calgary Homeless Foundation-funded supportive housing programs.  

“This joint project is beyond exciting and such a wonderful resource for the community. It puts first and foremost the right mental health support in front of the right people at the right time,” said Carlene Donnelly, Executive Director, CUPS. “This is such an asset for Calgary and I want to applaud the team at Calgary Homeless Foundation for bringing about such an exciting initiative at a time when it’s needed the most.” 

As an agency and programmatic partnership, this pilot is a collaboration between the CUPS Shared Care Mental Health program and the CFS Rapid Access Counselling program, combining their already proven strengths into a continuum of services that will be offered to individuals experiencing homelessness. 

“Compassionate care is timely care,” said Jessica Cope Williams, Co-CEO, Catholic Family Service. “The service is designed so those facing homelessness can access Rapid Care Counselling within three business days. The program puts the mental health care people need where they need it, when they need it, as a result of strategic collaboration between organizations. This shifts the burden of accessing the right supports from those in crisis to organizations doing the work to create seamless service access.” 

The pilot’s mobile service and assessment is designed to allow participants to connect with a qualified counsellor within three business days and provide them with a care plan to connect to supports that are required beyond the session, including longer-term mental health supports and community referrals. Starting February 15, service providers will be able to book individuals for a virtual counselling session or an in-person session in several designated locations.  

Entry into the program begins with a session with a CFS team member. The first appointment will be a goal-based and solution-focused counselling session followed by integrated care planning to determine what supports are required beyond the session. This may include access to future sessions, other community supports, or referral into counselling sessions with CUPS Shared Care Mental Health counsellors.  

Rapid Care Counselling is an innovative program that represents an important step forward in our collective efforts to support the health and mental wellness of Calgarians who have, or are experiencing homelessness.  

People’s experiences of homelessness affect and are affected by their mental health, and connecting the sectors of health, housing, and homelessness together is critical to supporting them. With this unique programming, service providers have a tool they can use to successfully address the systemic issues that contribute to an individual’s experience of mental health and homelessness.  

Rapid Care Counselling Media Coverage: 

For three months, I’ve served as Calgary Homeless Foundation’s new President and CEO, and I am still taking in all that our community is doing to steer the fight against homelessness.

I have learned so much about the passion of the staff, their drive to create a coordinated response to people in need of a home, and the use of data and research to adapt our approach in real time—all in partnership with community agencies, government and the private sector. 

Together, we can ensure everyone has a place to call home—a place to heal, a place to have a better life.    

I don’t believe any of us gets through life unscathed. Many of us are lucky to have family and financial resources to lift us up when we stumble. I have been fortunate to come from small-town Alberta, where everyone knew my name, and where the community had my family’s back during tough times.    

Many of those we serve have not been so lucky. By joining CHF, I have joined a team of folks who want to make sure that having each other’s back is just part of the deal—and what a healthy community should be.    

As we all continue to do what is asked of us as a community to quell the COVID-19 pandemic, we also acknowledge that the upcoming holiday season will be different. With this uncertainty, I find myself focusing on things to be grateful for—in particular, the opportunity to help others through our work.  

And speaking of gratitude, on Tuesday, December 1, our community is celebrating Giving Tuesday, a global movement for giving and volunteering that takes place each year after Black Friday.     

No doubt you will see many emails and social media posts about supporting the work being done in our community. If you feel inspired by our work, we would be grateful if you would remember us—or any other agency that inspires you. Or simply take a few moments to engage in small acts of kindness. How we give back matters less than the change we hope to see.   

Thank you for caring about our community and for your partnership as a supporter of our work.  

Take care of each other and stay well,   

Patricia    

Patricia Jones, President and CEO, Calgary Homeless Foundation

Growing up in small-town Alberta, it never occurred to me that people might not have a home. I was raised in a large family on a farm: we didn’t have a lot of money, but I always had a place where I felt safe and loved. This is not the reality for 80,000 Calgarians who struggle to keep their home for several reasons—including intergenerational trauma, personal circumstances, and plain bad luck.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted what we intuitively know: that housing strengthens our physical and mental health. When we are sick, we can recover in the comfort of our bed or living room. When we are anxious, home is a place of solace—a space to connect with ourselves and our families over a homecooked meal.  

It is difficult to imagine how we could weather the ups and downs of this pandemic without a home. But for many who have suffered a job loss, an illness, or another unexpected turn of events, homelessness is their reality. You or someone you know may be facing the same challenge. 

Before COVID-19 reached Calgary, nearly one in five households in our city struggled to pay for housing, spending over 30% of their income on shelter costs. We have made great strides to create a world where everyone has a home, but as our population grows, more than 100,000 households are forecast to be in housing need by 2025. Compared to other Canadian cities, Calgary falls behind when it comes to affordable housing, with an estimated 15,000 affordable units needed to reach the 2016 national average. 

On November 22, National Housing Day, we recognized how far we have come to improve access to housing. But we also reflect on the work that remains to be done to ensure housing is accessible to everyone. The day is especially significant as frigid winter temperatures threaten individuals and families without a home.  

With collective action and continued innovation, we know it is possible to create a future where no one becomes homeless in our city.  

That benefits us all. Not only is it the ethical thing to do, it makes economic sense: it costs 65 per cent less to house someone than it does to leave them without a home. We also know every $1 spent on housing people with supports saves between $1.17 to $2.84 in hospital and ER visits and interactions with the police, because people who are housed don’t need to interact with these services as frequently. In 2018-19, our province saved $105M as a result of this investment. 

Moreover, housing people with supports helps them address the factors that may have led to their experience of homelessness in the first place. This empowers them to move into the future as integral members of our community. 

Our work to connect Calgarians with a home would not be possible without the dedication of housing providers, including our housing collaborator HomeSpace Society, a charitable real estate developer that is giving individuals and families a fresh start. Together, we partner with agencies to provide supports that help residents integrate into the community and move onto a permanent home.  

We partner with government, agencies, faith-based communities, and individuals to create solutions for permanent housing. This year, we helped launch programs that swiftly moved people out of emergency shelters, and coordinated isolation spaces for individuals and families. With the unwavering dedication of many supporters and front-line workers throughout the pandemic, over 1,100 Calgarians now have a place to call home.  

But the fact remains, to end homelessness, we need homes. Our efforts cannot end here. Calgarians have always known that by working together—private, public and government—everyone can have the sanctuary they deserve. As we reach the end of the year, we hope you renew your commitment to support us in creating a world where homelessness never happens. Thank you for ensuring that everyone can put on a pot of tea in the place they call “home.” 

Calgary Herald Op-Ed submission by Patricia Jones, President and CEO, Calgary Homeless Foundation 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtYwG8_LfDk&feature=emb_logo

On November 19, 2020, Calgary Homeless Foundation and its community partners celebrated the opening of The Triveri House, which will provide 38 youth with a warm, safe place to call home.  

The opening included the launch of a new microsite, featuring a video that provides an exclusive peek into the building itself, and insight from those who made the building a reality.   

A Place of Stability for Youth 

The Triveri House, which offers 37 units and one transitional suite, is located in Calgary’s Forest Lawn community. It will provide homeless and vulnerable youth with the foundation they need to begin their journey towards health and independence.  

According to the 2018 Point-in-time Count, of the 2,911 Calgarians experiencing homelessness on any given night, 18% (over 500 individuals) are under the age of 24. In the Coordinated Access and Assessment system, which matches people with the programs and services they need, around 80 youth are waiting for supportive housing in Calgary. 

Mady Stone, a member of the Youth Advisory Table, describes her experiences of homelessness on and off between the ages of 16 to 21 as “the scariest thing” in her life. 

She says is excited about The Triveri House, because “it will mean people getting housed faster and having a place to feel stable.”  

Supports for the Journey Home 

To help tenants of The Triveri House begin their journey towards healing, Enviros was selected as the building’s agency provider through an extensive RFP process.  

The agency will assign a case manager to each tenant to determine their goals and needs. Case managers will help them access health care, income supports, and food security, while enabling them to integrate into the community and connect with their natural supports. Case managers will also assist tenants in learning the daily life skills required to live independently. 

The Triveri House offers a range of supports, from minimal intervention to more intensive case management for those with complex needs. It will also provide a spectrum of programming, including:  

  • Housing identification;  
  • Rent and move-in assistance;  
  • Case management;  
  • Short-term housing with supports while residents await more permanent options, and 
  • More intensive longer-term housing.

Hazel Bergen, CEO of Enviros, says the agency is looking forward to working with tenants, noting it has extensive experience working with youth aged 18 to 24, who are moving to independence through Enviros’s Youth Transition to Adulthood program and the wilderness addiction treatment program held at Shunda Creek. 

She observes that youth must have a “safe place to sleep and call home” before “they can work towards the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being they need in order to successfully exit homelessness and become independent.” 

Collaborating to Make Home A Reality 

The Triveri House marks the ninth newly constructed building given to Calgary Homeless Foundation and its housing collaborator, HomeSpace Society, through the RESOLVE Campaign.  

The development was made possible through the generosity of philanthropic donor, Calbridge HomesHomeSpace Society developed the property and will continue to own and operate it. The Government of Canada (through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) and the Government of Alberta also contributed to the build, as did the City of Calgary through a non-market land disposition.  

Patricia Jones, President and CEO of Calgary Homeless Foundation, says as a result of this collaboration, the youth moving into The Triveri House “will have a place of belonging, and a stable foundation upon which all other healing can happen.”     

Bernadette Madjell, CEO of HomeSpace Society adds, “HomeSpace Society is proud to partner with Calbridge Homes for this build, which will be our largest new permanent supportive housing development to date.”  

She continues: “Our strong community partnerships are critical for the work we do in continually adding new affordable housing in our city and providing homes, safety and dignity to some of Calgary’s most vulnerable residents.”   

A Name with Meaning  

The Triveri House is named in memory of Caterina Triveri-Ferraro and Raimondo Ferraro – the parents of Joe Ferraro, Chairman and Founder of Calbridge Homes – and serves as a dedication to his mother’s side of the family.   

The name honours the Ferraro family’s hardships after moving to Canada from Italy in the 1950s and the strength they developed through the experience. It recognizes that communities become stronger when people help one another.   

Bev Higham-Linehan, President and CEO of Calbridge Homes, says the company is “grateful to be in a position to give back to people in need, particularly at this time in our economy here in Alberta.” 

“This contribution to the RESOLVE Campaign is the biggest donation we have ever done and it could not be a more worthy cause,” she says. 

To the residents of The Triveri House — welcome home!  

For more information on the building, visit: www.triverihouse.com. 

The Triveri House: In the News 

Patricia Jones, President and CEO of Calgary Homeless Foundation at The Triveri House
Community Room at The Triveri House
Outdoor Space at The Triveri House

Join us at The Trail Blazer Breakfast, to be held on Wednesday, May 12, 2021.

Every year, Calgary Homeless Foundation connects leaders, innovators and philanthropists at The Trail Blazer Breakfast to address issues of poverty and homelessness.   

This year, we are pleased to present Lieutenant-General (Ret) The Honourable Roméo Dallaire as our keynote speaker.   

A celebrated advocate for human rights, General Dallaire is a respected author, government and UN advisor, former Canadian senator, and founder of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, a global partnership with the mission to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers.  

General Dallaire will draw from his experiences to show us a path forward in a world changed by COVID-19. We will explore how countries have recovered and thrived after unspeakable crises and how we can chart a hopeful future together. Come be inspired by a true force of transformative action.  

The event will also honour Tim J. Hearn as the recipient of the 2021 Trail Blazer Legacy Award, which recognizes an individual or group whose dedication to the vision of ending homelessness has created a lasting impact on our community. 

We appreciate your patience as we continue to monitor the COVID-19 safety guidelines from Alberta Health Services. We promise that if community health concerns require a virtual event, it will still be one you won’t want to miss!

Visit our website for more information about the event or email trailblazeryyc@calgaryhomeless.com

Calgary Homeless Foundation and developer HomeSpace Society will celebrate the virtual opening of a new building in downtown Calgary on December 15, 2020 with a video featuring the stakeholders of the building,  

The 74-unit, nine-storey concrete tower, located at the corner of 5th Avenue and 9th Street, is the largest building in HomeSpace’s portfolio of thirty properties, as well as the first constructed of concrete and located in the Core. It is also the tenth build completed through the RESOLVE Campaign.  

The tower is an impressive testament to the power of philanthropic gifts when it is combined with resources from various levels of government.  

David and Leslie Bissett provided generous support as the lead philanthropic contributor to the build. Their donation was complemented with funds from the Government of Canada (through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation), a land donation from the City of Calgary, and philanthropic support from Suncor Energy Foundation. 

HomeSpace, which owns and operates the building, says it has partnered with two service providers to handle resident referrals, supports and community development. 

It says it is proud to have brought the tower to life despite several delays and challenges resulting from the pandemic, and adds that the building, its residents and staff will contribute to the vibrancy of the Downtown-West neighbourhood for decades to come. 

Calgary Homeless Foundation is developing a Community Data Hub – an initiative that streamlines work for agencies and provides a fuller picture of people’s needs on their journey home. 

The purpose of the Community Data Hub is to free agencies from repetitive data entry, giving them more time with clients. Currently, agencies must enter information into our database, the Homeless Management Information System, as well as their own and those of other funders. This process is inefficient, and the reports we generate is limited and only produced every three months.  

With the Community Data Hub, staff will only need to enter data about their clients once. They will also be able to access reports about their clients in real time, enabling them to see trends to help them manage their programs. 

The hub will also provide a more complete picture of clients’ journeys. Drawing on data from other systems like Health and Justice, predictive tools based on artificial intelligence will calculate the risks for each client, including their risk of returning to homelessness. In this way, the hub will help agencies design programs and solutions that are tailored to a client’s unique needs. 

Finally, the Community Data Hub lets us collaborate with research partners, giving us a better understanding of what innovations create the best results for our clients. 

So what does all this mean for the most important people – those experiencing homelessness? 

More attention. Agencies will have more time to spend directly with clients, because they won’t need to dedicate staff time to data entry. Clients will immediately get better personalized and immediate service.  

Less trauma. Clients won’t need to answer questions about themselves repeatedly.  

Higher quality service. With real-time access to relevant information (such as a client’s housing, health, or how well they have been served by other programs), agencies are better able to direct clients to programs that are best-placed to help them find their way home. 

Support from NOVA Chemical and the Poelzer Family Foundation Fund is helping us build the first piece of this ambitious, multi-year initiative. Stay tuned for further updates, and information on how you can help make the Community Data Hub a reality! 

On October 22, 2020, Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF) and its community partners celebrated the opening of The James House through the launch of a new microsite, featuring a video that provides an exclusive peek into the building itself, and insight from those who made the building a reality.  

Building Lifelong Success 

The James House, which offers 27 units in a building located in the community of Hillhurst, will house vulnerable and homeless Calgarians and provide them with the supports they need to help them begin their journey towards health and independence. 

Agency provider McMan Calgary & Area will focus on connecting residents of The James House to natural supports, such as family and friends, and assist them in becoming members of the community within a targeted stay of ten months. Residents will also work with a diversion advocate to secure financial supports, liaise with landlords, and find appropriate accommodation.  

“Our innovative service model leverages friends, family, community and professional supports to holistically address each resident’s unique needs and help them attain their goals,” says Soraya Saliba, Executive Director of McMan Calgary & Area. She adds: “The relationships, connections and skills residents will build at The James House are critical to their lifelong well-being and success.” 

With McMan offering a broad spectrum of services, Calgarians can move from homelessness into a home with 24/7 supports that focus on their health, financial stability, and community connections.  

An Unprecedented Collaboration 

For agencies serving people experiencing homelessness, The James House represents an unprecedented collaboration between the public and private sector. 

On the public side, the Government of Canada (through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) supported the project alongside the Government of Alberta, and the City of Calgary provided a non-market land disposition.  

On the private side, philanthropic donors Logel Homes and Cardel Homes developed the property with non-market developer and building manager HomeSpace Society, which will continue to own and operate the building. 

Patricia Jones, CEO of CHF, says the collaboration between the parties is a “demonstration that homelessness can end when we intentionally choose to work together.” 

Bernadette Madjell, CEO of HomeSpace Society, adds: “Our strong community partnerships are critical for the work we do in continually adding new affordable housing in our city and providing homes, safety and dignity to some of Calgary’s most vulnerable residents.” 

A Personal Legacy 

In addition to having an opportunity to partner with the public sector and provide a second chance to Calgarians experiencing homelessness, The James House is a deeply personal project for Tim Logel, President and CEO of Logel Homes and Co-Founder of Cardel Lifestyles.  

“When I first moved to Calgary in 1978, looking for my first job, and with little money, I struggled to find a place to live,” Logel says. “For a short time, I was in my tent in a KOA camp, and will not forget the feeling of not having a home.” 

Logel says his passion for homebuilding was ignited after helping his father build a barn on an Ontario farm when he was 14. The James House is named after his father, and Logel says his father would be honoured to have his name on a building that is providing a home to vulnerable Calgarians.   

A Stable Foundation 

Buildings like The James House highlight the importance of home as a foundation for a person’s life, and the place where healing can begin. 

When Jeffrey Yellowfly moved to Calgary, one of his main goals was to obtain a place for himself. “[H]aving permanent living quarters would give me better opportunities to access all my other needs to maintain a proper lifestyle,” he says. 

Today, Jeffrey is a natural support for a housing client of McMan. He describes housing as “the most integral part of having a healthy living environment.” 

Jones agrees and says The James House will “provide a place of belonging, and a stable foundation upon which all other healing happens.” 

To the residents of The James House — welcome home! 

For more information on the building, visit:  www.thejameshouse.ca.   

Kitchen at The James House
Resident unit at The James House
Barrier-free shower at The James House
Tim Logel outside of The James House
Ryan Ockey (left) and Tim Logel (right) at The James House
Kootenay Lodge - 40 Calgarians will be moved out of homelessness and into long-term housing
Kootenay Lodge

Approximately 40 Calgarians will be moved out of homelessness and into long-term housing by March 31, 2021, thanks to a new bridge housing program in a Martindale apartment building. The program will see individuals receive temporary housing at Kootenay Lodge with on-site support services so they can quickly and successfully move from the emergency shelter system into independent living. As part of the Diversion Bridge Housing Program, this 10-unit building’s bridge housing program is made possible as part of a collaboration between Calgary Homeless Foundation, HomeSpace Society and The Mustard Seed, and is especially important given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

On Sept. 17, 2020, The Mustard Seed began receiving referrals to the building with staggered move-ins to follow. Individuals who have experienced homelessness for less than one year will move from an emergency shelter to Kootenay Lodge before relocating to a home. The program is targeted at individuals who face financial barriers, or low to moderate physical or mental health challenges. During their stay, a diversion advocate will provide on-site support with system navigation, help individuals secure financial supports, look for appropriate accommodation, and connect them with landlords to support their journey into independent housing. 

Diverting people out of their experience of homelessness into a home is the best solution for the health of the individual and the community as a whole during the health crisis presented by COVID-19.  

“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that, now more than ever, housing is essential for health. As an immediate response, we have strengthened our partnerships in community to create collective solutions through coordination and collaboration to prevent and end homelessness for Calgarians as quickly and efficiently as possible— including this partnership with The Mustard Seed and HomeSpace,” says Matt Nomura, Vice President of Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care, Calgary Homeless Foundation. “No two stories or pathways into homelessness are the same. An individual’s journey towards recovery requires a spectrum of services to support their successful exit out of homelessness. These services include a range of supports, from abstinence to harm reduction, and housing with intense supports to independent living,” Nomura continued.  

The Mustard Seed will support the individuals during their time at the Kootenay Lodge, and throughout their transition as they move to their new home. 

“The Mustard Seed is proud to offer multifaceted wraparound services to quickly facilitate moving individuals out of homelessness. We have a Resident Engagement worker on site to facilitate move-ins and move-outs, as well as ensure adherence to COVID precautions in place to protect residents. We also have a Diversion Advocate on site, who will assist in the housing journey, providing resources and system navigation for clients to smoothly transition into permanent housing,” said Samantha Lowe, Health and Wellness Manager, The Mustard Seed. 

The Diversion Bridge Housing Program estimates that individuals will stay  at Kootenay Lodge before moving into stable long-term housing.  

“HomeSpace is committed to creating more affordable housing so vulnerable people can rebuild their lives from a place of dignity and safety,“ says Bernadette Majdell, CEO, HomeSpace Society. “This new bridge housing program at HomeSpace’s Kootenay Lodge is a perfect example of innovative collaboration to help address the urgent needs of our city.”