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.”

What does diversion mean?

Diversion means that people are directed away from emergency shelters into some form of housing.

What does diversion look like?

Diversion programs exist for people who have recently become homeless and have only just entered Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care. It often happens at the shelter door as a conversation with a case worker. The caseworker will talk with the client to determine how they entered homelessness and see if there are any natural supports they can lean on, such as family or friends. Some of the programs even work with families to repair broken relationships. They can connect the individual with assistance in applying for financial supports, damage deposit, rental arrears relocation or rehousing, or a few months’ rent.

Why is diversion important?

Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care works to provide tailored support for everyone. Even though there are some similarities amongst the homeless population, everyone’s needs are different, and we collectively offer a spectrum of services to help.

Imagine if our health care system was only made up of hospitals. People don’t always need to visit the ER if a trip to the pharmacy will do. It’s the same with the services our sector provides to clients; diversion is one offering on a spectrum of services.

If the difference between someone being quickly rehoused or staying homeless is simply assistance with a damage deposit, rental arrears, or applying for Alberta Works, diversion programs aim to make up the difference, addressing someone’s homelessness in the moment, or quickly after it starts. We utilize diversion to decrease the number of people in the homeless-serving system of care and reduce time spent in a shelter, which can be challenging and traumatizing, and potentially further entrench them into homelessness.

What would happen if appropriate diversion did not happen?

Shelters are a vital part of our homeless-serving system. They are there for people who have nowhere else to turn. The experience of being in a shelter is also a big adjustment from the experience of having a home. It can be very traumatizing for people and has the potential to increase the complexity of an already challenging situation. It disconnects them from the relationships they usually rely on and forces them to rely on a system, which can be destabilizing. It means that someone else cooks for them, shows them where to sleep, and tells them when to wake up—and it means they don’t have an address or a place to store their belongings. Shelters can also be a health risk, especially in our current COVID-19 context. The purpose of a shelter is to provide emergency space while people wait for more permanent housing.

How does diversion work contribute to reducing and ending homelessness?

Diverting people from shelter ensures that they move into housing quickly instead—which means that people can rely on themselves and their natural supports rather than the homeless-serving system of care. That means that many people can be spared from utilizing emergency shelters—and if they do enter a shelter, they are moved into housing quickly, ending their experience of homelessness.

What agencies are currently involved in diversion work?

The Mustard Seed, Calgary Drop-In Centre, Aspen Family and Community Network Society Children’s Cottage Society, Calgary Alpha House Society, Boys & Girls Clubs of Calgary (BGCC), and Centre for Newcomers.

Has diversion work been impacted by the pandemic?

The homeless-serving sector’s diversion work has increased as it’s now considered a health measure to reduce exposure within congregate settings, or large gathering spaces. As part of our COVID-19 response, we’ve launched a transitional hotel with the Calgary Drop-in Centre that diverts individuals from shelters and moves them into permanent housing, and we are also in the midst of launching a place-based diversion program with the Mustard Seed.

What is CHF’s role in diversion?

CHF primarily funds these programs, and we also collect data from these programs—such as the number of people accessing them, their current barriers to housing, and the kinds of solutions that are available within our community. We analyze the information so the sector can better serve other individuals who may be facing a similar situation. We also provide training opportunities, mentorship, and programs for caseworkers who work within these programs.

What are the results?

Since January, 284 people have been diverted from shelter into housing, and all of these individuals are exceeding our goal of remaining in housing for 3 months without re-entering the shelter system. Diversion programs are a recent development with the collection of diversion data began in 2019. The information will continue to be reviewed, and will inform more successful diversion work as we continue.

Originally published 08/14/2020 by Calgary Herald

Patricia Jones, President & CEO, Calgary Homeless Foundation
Photo: AZIN GHAFFARI / Postmedia

Twenty-seven years ago, I began my career serving people as a social worker with Catholic Family Service. During that time, I developed a deep reverence for those experiencing vulnerability. From mental health programs, affordable counselling, and marriage preparation, to teaching life skills to teen parents and helping adult learners complete their GED – every day, we worked to build strong families in Calgary.

Yet, while I passionately believe that education, mental health and addiction support is key to moving individuals and families out of poverty, it was one of our signature partnerships that taught me that people cannot move on in their lives without a literal foundation – that is, a place to call home.

That program was the Louise Dean Centre, a wraparound service and school for pregnant and parenting teen mothers and fathers. We were proud of our graduates and worked hard to promote their healing and wellness, but the reality was that our participants and their children would leave our programs with no safe place to land.

Approximately twenty per cent of the students were homeless. They were completing their homework in the back of cars, taking their newborns to friends’ couches, and stuffing their diplomas into suitcases. Over half had been accepted into post-secondary school, but the thought of figuring out childcare, paying for school and groceries was understandably paralyzing. And, if they were connected to housing, often they did not have the skills to maintain it. How can someone build a strong family without a place to kiss their children goodnight? Sadly, this is the daily experience of many people in our city, with 100,000 households projected to be in need of housing in the next five years.

During the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has also never been more evident that housing is our first and best line of defense when it comes to addressing crisis. People cannot self-isolate without a home. 

In response, Calgary Homeless Foundation coordinated the efforts of Calgary’s established and well-respected homeless-serving community – agencies, shelters and government partners – who came together to launch an isolation centre as a temporary emergency response to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within and outside the city’s homeless population. Since early April, over 305 medically at-risk individuals have been given the ability to self-isolate for two weeks and nearly 100 of them have been moved into permanent housing to date.

Despite these extraordinary efforts, on any given day, pandemic or not, there are approximately 2,911 Calgarians experiencing homelessness — which means there are 2,911 stories where systems have potentially failed. In addition, our shared challenge in Calgary continues to be an availability of appropriate housing for vulnerable populations.

It is because of these kinds of stories that I chose to step into the role of President and CEO of Calgary Homeless Foundation. I believe that any personal, familial, and societal transformation begins with – and requires – a place to call home.

Solving homelessness underpins every other development effort in our city. Societal change is not created by any one foundation, agency, individual, or government alone. For that reason, I look forward to working together to provide a continuum of housing options with the right supports so Calgarians have a foundation upon which healing and recovery can happen.

When we talk about caring for vulnerable families and individuals, our community health – or any of the social issues we’re facing in our city today – we will continue to fall short if we’re not also talking about how to create housing and homes for the people we’re caring for.

Patricia Jones - President & CEO, Calgary Homeless FoundationCalgary Homeless Foundation’s (CHF) Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Patricia Jones as CHF’s new President and Chief Executive Officer, effective August 10, 2020. Following a Canada-wide recruitment process led by Leaders International Executive Search, Patricia was identified as the ideal visionary leader to propel CHF’s mission forward during this pivotal time.

Patricia comes to CHF from a dedicated 27 years with Catholic Family Service, where she focused on the delivery of programs and services to break cycles of generational vulnerability and build strong families. With a great appreciation for CHF’s mission-focused future, she was drawn to the role by our focus on collective action, evidence-based outcomes, and a strong personal belief that every Calgarian deserves a place to call home.

“CHF has an incredible future before it with a strong board and exceptional leadership team and staff, and with Patricia leading the way, we will deliver excellence and value to Calgary and our Homeless-Serving System of Care, and ultimately, we will continue to deliver the best care for Calgary’s most vulnerable,” says Gerald Chipeur, CHF Board Chair

Collaborative leadership, innovative, big picture thinking and a firm belief in system planning, and evidence-based practice guides Patricia’s work as she begins her journey with CHF. Under her leadership, we will continue to chart our path forward towards the end of homelessness and we are confident that her leadership will be transformative in scope and scale. It is with her strong, capable leadership and innovative community driven focus, that together, we will end homelessness in Calgary.


On the week of June 15, the Selection Committee of CHF’s Board of Directors announced the Appointment of CHF’s new President and CEO.

Click here to see more


On the week of April 27, the Selection Committee of CHF’s Board of Directors met with Leadership International Executive Search.

The search firm has identified a list of candidates from across Canada, from both the public and private sectors, who possess key qualifications including leadership, strategic thinking, ability to work with multiple stakeholders, government relations, and knowledge of homelessness and the homeless sector. Over the first week of May, the Selection Committee will be evaluating the list of candidates to identify a short list, and first and second round interviews will commence shortly thereafter.


The Board of Directors has retained Leaders International Executive Search to conduct a Canada-wide recruitment process for a new President and CEO. Leaders International Executive Search is a leading executive search firm with over 30 years of experience placing senior leaders in the not-for-profit sector.

The job profile for our new CEO has been finalized and posted by Leaders International, and can be found here

March 18, 2020

Our monitoring of the COVID-19 situation is ongoing. We continue to follow and implement the recommendations of Alberta Health Services (AHS), the World Health Organization (WHO), and Federal, Provincial, and Municipal government guidelines towards taking appropriate precautions regarding our day-to-day work, planned public gatherings, and places where transmission may occur. The safety and well-being of staff, our community, and those we serve is always of utmost importance and continues to be at the forefront of our decision making as we continue to navigate these uncertain times.

CHF has been actively involved in working with the Government of Alberta, the City of Calgary, and AHS to ensure that those who are experiencing homelessness are best supported through these trying times. These working groups have been working around the clock to ensure that information is up-to-date and is specific to Calgary and our community’s needs.

CHF continues to work in partnership through open and transparent communication with the programs we fund. In addition to our recommendations, our funded programs have also implemented their own measured precautions that best leverage their internal capacity and available resources to protect front-line staff and those we serve.

To view statements on COVID-19 and the actions being taken by Calgary’s homeless-serving agencies, we invite you to visit the I Heart Home Facebook and twitter accounts. Statements from agencies in the sector will continue to be shared through those channels as they become available.

As we move forward and navigate these trying times together, we continue to encourage all of you to practice self-care, and to lead with compassion, kindness and care for others. Even working virtually, we all have the ability to be a pillar of strength and support for others in our community.

For more information, please refer to our Frequently Asked Questions, below:

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is CHF doing to address the possible spread and transmission of COVID-19?

CHF has modified our practices and the ways in which we convene community. Heeding the advice of public health authorities, we have determined that large meetings (over 15) that take place in person, such as Coordinated Access and Assessment (CAA), Training and Communities of Learning will be paused or shifted to a virtual process. The safety and well-being of staff, participants, the community and those who are experiencing homelessness is always at the forefront of our decision making.

We are also working closely with Government of Alberta Community and Social Services (CSS), AHS, the Calgary Emergency Management Agency (CEMA), and the City of Calgary and representatives of key agencies.

What is the sector doing to address the possible spread and transmission of COVID-19?

We have confidence that the agencies with Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care (CHSSC) will continue to assess and implement appropriate and measured precautions against the possible transmission of COVID-19 within the homeless population. CHF respects that every organization will have their own protocols and procedures in place to address the current situation and how it may possibly affect their service delivery. We are continuing to work with every one of our partners as the situation continues to evolve.

Is CHF continuing to house those who are homeless?

Yes. At this time, we have implemented a virtual CAA process and all teams are continuing to participate. However, we are remaining agile as the situation evolves.

What about those people who are in shelters?

We are currently working closely with our shelter partners (Alpha House, Calgary Drop-In Center) to support them through this challenging and difficult time. They are continuing to house people as rapidly as possible and are working with community doctors to set up spaces for testing, and creating isolation spaces, if necessary. We have every confidence that they are taking appropriate measures and are following the recommendations of public health authorities.

What types of measures are your funded programs taking?

The agencies that we fund are concentrating on their existing sanitation measures and are focused on staff wellness and hygiene as per the guidance of public health officials. Many share our concerns about the well-being of clients in our buildings and programs, and have made a resounding commitment to continue to do what they can to ensure the delivery of services to vulnerable Calgarians.

How does the state of emergency declared today impact your work?

The state of emergency allows the Government of Alberta to make decisions more quickly. Our ministry (CSS) is meeting daily with the shelters and community-based organizations like CHF to identify issues and flag them to the Alberta Provincial Operations Centre (APOC). $60M of emergency funding was allocated today for immediate supports for the homeless population and women’s shelters to fund measures for social distancing, isolation and daytime supports for those who are experiencing homelessness.

What is the most pressing concern at this time?

Right now we’re looking at coordinating our efforts with the Province and the City to make sure that there is an appropriate and measured medical response that allows us to isolate, respond and treat people accordingly, and ensure that front-line staff and their work environments are safe.

Is the (city/province) looking at the possibility of isolation centres?

Right now, we are all doing our best to make sure that those who are experiencing homelessness have access to safe and secure housing and shelter. We are in discussions with the Province and the City discussing all possible options, and we are hoping to learn more in the coming days and hours.

March 13, 2020

Like many of you, Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF) has been closely monitoring the evolving COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) situation, specifically the rise in cases throughout Alberta and around the globe. The safety and well-being of staff, our community, and those we serve is at the forefront of our decision making. We have continued to follow and implement the recommendations of Alberta Health Services (AHS), the World Health Organization (WHO), and Federal, Provincial, and Municipal government guidelines towards taking appropriate precautions regarding our day-to-day work, planned public gatherings, and places where transmission may occur. We continue to monitor the wellbeing of our staff to ensure they and their families are protected from the spread of the virus.

We have confidence that the agencies within Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care (CHSSC) will continue to assess and implement appropriate and measured precautions against the possible transmission of COVID-19 within the homeless population in order to protect them, and the front-line workers within our city.

As circumstances unfold, CHF will continue to adapt and adjust in close alignment with public health authorities and implement measures to ensure we maintain our support for the homeless-serving system of care and those we serve – while focusing on preventing the transmission of COVID-19.

In accordance with the recommendation of public health authorities, we have determined that effective immediately, all large group meetings, trainings, and CHF hosted events which have more than 25 people present will be evaluated to determine whether they will either be postponed, cancelled, or held in a virtual capacity. Smaller group and one-on-one meetings will continue to be assessed on an ongoing basis. Updates regarding specific follow up plans for community events, meetings and trainings will be forthcoming.

We ask that you join us in following the recommendations and guidance from public health and government officials at the following links:

Alberta Health Services: https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx#toc-2
Government of Canada: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html
Alberta Health Services – Online Covid-19 Self Assessment: https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Journey/COVID-19/Pages/COVID-Self-Assessment.aspx

If you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, fever, fatigue and shortness of breath), self-quarantine for the recommended period of time (14 days) and contact 8-1-1 for assessment.

Thank you to all of the service providers throughout the city who are providing exceptional care for our most vulnerable citizens. Your tireless efforts do not go unnoticed.

During these challenging times, we encourage all to prioritize your well-being and to lead with kindness and care for each other, as your community members are also working through these trying times beside you.

*Please note, this page will continue to be updated with relevant information. Check back regularly for updates.

The Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF) Board of Directors, with great regret, has accepted the resignation of Diana Krecsy, President and CEO. Diana will be stepping down as leader effective Jan. 31, 2020. Gail Boehm, Chief Operating Officer at CHF, will commence as Acting CEO, effective Feb. 1, 2020. The Board of Directors has retained Leaders International Executive Search to conduct a Canada-wide recruitment process for a new President and CEO. Leaders International Executive Search is a leading executive search firm with over 30 years of experience placing senior leaders in the not-for-profit sector.

After nearly six years of providing innovative and compelling leadership to the organization and community, Diana identified that now is the right time for leadership renewal.

Diana leaves CHF and Community in a position of strength having successfully led community in achieving unprecedented progress and outcomes identified in Calgary’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness; co-creating with community a future path forward in the adoption of Together to Zero: a vision for the future of addressing homelessness in Calgary; and delivering to the CHF Board of Directors a new 3-year strategic blueprint that will guide the Foundations’ continued innovative, collaborative, system level leadership in Calgary’s Homeless Serving System of Care.

“CHF has an incredible mission-focused future before it,” says Diana. “It has a strong and talented board, exceptional executive management, a dedicated staff, and is in a strong position to continue to lead on ending homelessness and delivering excellence and value to our city and community.”

Diana is looking forward to exploring new leadership opportunities where she can continue to add value to vulnerable Calgarians and Albertans while remaining a champion of CHF and its mission.

“On behalf of the Board, we thank Diana for her tremendous contribution as the President and CEO of Calgary Homeless Foundation. And while it will be impossible to replace Diana’s courageous compassion and commitment to the mission, we will work hard to find the best candidate to lead the organization in advancing our vision that together, we will end homelessness in Calgary,” – Gerald Chipeur, Board Chair, Calgary Homeless Foundation.



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Your donation helps Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF) play a unique role in ending homelessness in our city.

Your support ensures that CHF will continue to identify service gaps and develop innovative solutions to help people in need find their way home.


Your donation today will help build more futures. Join us in creating solutions that help more people find their way home!


Calgary Homeless Foundation - 2020 Trail Blazer Breakfast - May 7 2020

Trail Blazer Breakfast is CHF’s annual marquee fundraiser event. We invite you to join us on the morning of May 7, 2020, where you will connect with other thought-leaders, innovators, philanthropists, influencers and entrepreneurs in Calgary – people who aren’t afraid to blaze new trails and leverage joint resources and expertise in order to collectively address the complex social issues of poverty and homelessness in our city.

Early bird tickets are available until January 31, 2020. Click HERE to purchase.

Regular ticket pricing will begin on February 1, 2020.


Trail Blazer Breakfast 2020 Keynote Speaker: Lieutenant-General (ret) The Honourable Roméo A. Dallaire

As a military commander, humanitarian, senator or 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.

Tim Hearn

2020 Trail Blazer Legacy Award Recipient: Tim J. Hearn

CHF is pleased to announce Tim J. Hearn as the 2020 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.



2020 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 2020 Trail Blazer Breakfast the most memorable to-date.

2020 Trail Blazer Breakfast: Sponsorships, Tickets & Tables

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

Thank you to the current 2020 Trail Blazer Sponsors:

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

The following sponsor levels are still available:

  • Host Sponsor
  • Trail Blazer Sponsor
  • Humanitarian Sponsor

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


Since 2003, greengate Garden Centres has continued to generously support Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF) in our work to end homelessness in our city. Their year-round support for Calgarians experiencing homelessness ranges from their Hope for Humanity Roses Campaign to donations from their December holiday campaign.

This holiday season, greengate Garden Centres continues to give through their holiday campaign by donating a portion of ALL sales until December 22, 2019, to CHF.

greengate Garden Centres is also accepting gifts-in-kind for various homeless-serving agencies in Calgary to help support those most in need this holiday season. Donations can be dropped off now through December 22, 2019.

From trees to tinsel, and ornaments to collectibles, you can help to support CHF this holiday season when you choose to shop at greengate Garden Centres → located at: 14111 Macleod Trail, Calgary, AB, T2Y 1M6.

You can learn more about greengate Garden Centres by visiting their website.