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Calgary Emergency Cold Weather Winter Response – UPDATE
March 4, 2022

Calgary Homeless Foundation, in collaboration with the City of Calgary, Government of Alberta, United Way, shelter agencies, community organizations, and outreach teams are implementing several measures as part of the Coordinated Community Winter Response. CHF has engaged in conversations with community partners to inform immediate actions, such as those listed below. We are also committed to ongoing collaboration with community partners to develop long-term responses to better serve those experiencing homelessness.

Below are the week’s additional updates on the goals of the Coordinated Community Winter response:

Create more warm spaces

This week’s update:

  • Warming centres have collectively served 643 individuals this week, with 43% of  Wood’s Homes clients were new to the centre.  Five individuals who were previously sleeping rough agreed to spend the night in shelter (The Alex) and were provided transportation to get there.

Provide basic winter safety essentials

This week’s update:

  • The Outreach Basic Needs Distribution Centre fulfilled orders for five outreach teams worth a total of $23, 385.74 this week, including food and water, winter clothing, hygiene items, PPE, and harm reduction supplies.
  • Three outreach teams voluntarily reported their work this week, with a combined total of more than 60 hours of outreach work in the community, 722 interactions supporting individuals, 18 direct service referrals and nine transports to shelter or services.
  • The Mustard Seed’s Outreach expansion had 90 contacts, handed out 192 basic need items and completed 8 transports.

Support community efforts to reduce barriers to accessing shelter

This week’s update:

  • Alpha House DOAP Main team completed 420 transports. Of those transports, referrals they completed were: 21 from Calgary Police Service, 10 from Emergency Medical Service, 24 from Bylaw/Transit,  three from Calgary Fire Department and 26 calls from concerned citizens.

The need for mental health supports

By Janice Chan

Janice Chan is a System Planner at CHF


Alberta’s Health Funding Agreement March 10th announcement of an additional $1.3 billion over the next 10 years, including $586 million in support of mental health initiatives is good news for Albertans.  Given that this funding falls short of the 5.2% increase the Alberta Government requested of Ottawa[1], the Alberta government will need to be prudent with its spending to make the greatest impact in a cost-effective manner.

Greatest Impact

People experiencing mental illness are at greater risk of homelessness and the experience of homelessness, “in turn, amplifies poor mental health.”[2]  We know this to be true in Calgary.  Ganesh et al. (2013) screened clients at the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre for common psychiatric disorders and found 92.8% experienced one or more psychiatric illness and 60% had been undiagnosed and (or) untreated for their illness.[3]  Furthermore, according to CHF’s Homelessness Management Information System (HMIS) data collected between April 1, 2012 and March 31, 2014, 48% of clients in CHF’s housing programs experience mental illness.  Given the pressing need to address mental illness amongst people experiencing homelessness, we believe this critical investment would have a substantial impact on Calgary’s most vulnerable people.

Cost Savings

The At Home/Chez Soi study demonstrated that, for people experiencing chronic and episodic homelessness, there are substantial savings associated with the provision of housing with supports. The final report demonstrated that for the 10% of participants who were using the most services upon enrolment, every $1 invested in housing and professional support during the course of the study resulted in average savings of just over $2. And across all study participants, every $1 invested in housing and professional support resulted in $0.75 in savings on health, justice-related and social services.[4]  The 2016 State of Homelessness in Canada report estimates that homelessness costs Canadians over $7 billion per year.  Investing in critical social services, like mental health supports for Calgary’s most vulnerable can provide much needed cost savings to the public purse.

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What’s Needed

CHF’s 2017 budget submissions to federal and provincial governments, have asked for $8 million to help meet critical local funding needs to support vulnerable tenants in 166 new affordable housing units, scheduled to be built through the RESOLVE Campaign.  Funding for the full capital costs of these buildings is in place, however, program funding required to support tenants living in these buildings has not been confirmed. Long-term funding for adequate supports must be secured for people experiencing chronic and episodic homelessness to remain stably housed.

Bradley et al. (2016) concluded that money invested in health should not be limited to spending on health care, but also in social services and public health.[5] We hope that the recent additional mental health funding will be used not only to support health care, but also social services to help stabilize Calgary’s most vulnerable in housing through collaboration between Alberta Health and Community and Social Services.  Calgary’s Bridgeland and Ophelia Support Program, cost-shared by the two ministries, demonstrates the benefits of collaboration to provide stable housing and mental health services for people with severe and persistent mental illness and experiencing homelessness.  Not only will this investment make a substantial impact, but also provides cost-savings in health and justice public expenditures.

CHF welcomes the opportunity to further consult with the provincial government as it develops “a detailed plan on how these funds will be spent, over and above existing programs,” with the hope that it will include support to people experiencing mental illness and homelessness.


[1] Kaufmann, B. (2017) ‘Alberta says it hoped for more in $1.3-billion health funding deal with Ottawa’, Calgary Herald, Available from: http://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/alberta-says-it-hoped-for-more-in-1-3-billion-health-funding-deal-with-ottawa, [29 Mar.2017].

[2] Homeless Hub. (n.d.) Mental Health, [online]. Available from: http://homelesshub.ca/about-homelessness/topics/mental-health [Accessed 16 Mar. 2017].

[3] Ganesh, A., Campbell, D., Hurley, J., Patten, S. (2013) ‘High Positive Psychiatric Screening Rates in an Urban Homeless Population’, Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 58(6), 353-360.

[4] Goering, P., Veldhuizen, S., Watson, A., Adair, C., Kopp, B., Latimer, E., Nelson, G., MacNaughton, E., Streiner, D., & Aubry, T. (2014) National At Home/Chez Soi Final Report. Calgary: Mental Health Commission of Canada.

[5] Bradley, E., Canavan, M., Talbert-Slagle, K., Ndumele, C., Taylor, L., and Curry, L. (2016) ‘Variation in Health Outcomes: The Role of Spending on Social Services, Public Health and Health Care, 2000-09’, Health Affairs, 35(5), 760-768.

This past June, Colborne’s Forces, a community program launched by Calgary Flames forward Joe Colborne in November 2014, produced its first Benefit Concert to support Alberta veterans. Portions of the money raised went to benefit the unique needs of past members of Canada’s Armed Forces and to support military museums around the province. This is not the first time Colborne has shown support for our troops, and is known to purchase season tickets for members to attend every Flames’ home game, and ensures they get a chance to meet the team afterwards.

“I have always had a deep respect for the work that the Canadian Armed Forces do to protect our country and I am humbled to be able to give back to them through this program, Colborne’s Forces. They sacrifice so much for our freedom and I can’t thank them enough for their honour and commitment to our country” – Joe Colborne

A portion of the funds raised went to support The Madison, a 15 unit apartment building in the Beltline District of Calgary. Owned by the Calgary Community Land Trust, the Madison is operated by Alpha House Society Calgary through program funding from the Calgary Homeless Foundation. The Madison provides formerly homeless veterans receive housing and support 24/7 and an opportunity to reclaim their lives, dignity and respect after homelessness.

On August 23, the Calgary Homeless Foundation gratefully received a cheque for $2,500 from Joe Colborne on behalf of Colborne’s Forces for the benefit of The Madison and its residents.

Thank you to Joe Colborne and Colborne’s Forces, volunteers, planners and supporters who came together to make this event possible, and for ultimately helping Calgary veterans find a life beyond homelessness.

 

 

It’ll be a dinner extravaganza with meaning and a touch of intrigue. We want to take you back to the rise of jazz and swing, sinuous dress and art deco in our brand new fundraiser: Calgary Homeless Foundation Pop Up Party.

The fun launches this October 15th.

We’ll have some live entertainment, a dinner that nods to 1940’s supper clubs, handcrafted cocktails and fashion that charms. However, our lips are sealed on the location until the night before!

We want you to be there in support of bringing Calgarians home before the snow hits. Since the launch of Calgary’s Plan to End Homelessness in 2008, almost 8,000 people in Calgary have been housed with supports. They are thriving in our communities and Calgarians have played a role in making that happen. Be a part of the mission of housing more people by putting yourself on the guest list.

So brush up on your swing moves, lower your hemlines and rummage up some elbow-length gloves; dream about ending homelessness in Calgary, and imagine a new place to eat dinner.

Click HERE for tickets and info.

And remember. It’s a secret where you’ll be dining!  We promise. You will be surprised!

Written by Darcy Mammel

*Photo credit: Cat Schick

It’s a beautiful 19 degrees in Calgary and I’m on site at Calgary’s largest yarn-bombing initiative that will celebrate two new apartment buildings being built through the RESOLVE Campaign and Calgary’s Plan to End Homelessness. I’ve stopped here on my way to the Hillhurst Sunnyside Farmers’ Market, where I’ll get the experience of being a vendor for the day, sharing information about the Calgary Homeless Foundation’s (CHF) newest undertaking through the RESOLVE Campaign, a unique collaboration of nine Partner agencies raising $120 million to build affordable and supported rental housing for 3,000 vulnerable and homeless Calgarians.

The yarnbombing is well underway, and as I meet up with Linda Hawke, President of the Board of This is My City Art Society (TMC), she tells me that the weather couldn’t be better. I can see flashes of colour all over the house; a rainbow of yarn has begun making its way around the four walls of the old home. A property in the Hillhurst Sunnyside community that will soon become Aurora on the Park -a 25 unit accessible, affordable housing apartment building for Calgarians exiting homelessness. But for right now, the current building on the property is TMC’s newest canvas.

Contracted by CHF to turn the existing building into a work of art for the project’s introduction into the community, Linda and her team are spending the next two weeks wrapping the house in yarn and other textiles.  When I asked her what this project means to her, she tells me, “The yarn bombing is a great example of what This is My City is all about: art bringing people together…People see the colourful afghans going up on the house and they stop in and ask about what’s going on. Art brings them in. Artists and volunteers from all walks of life are working together to make the house look amazing, each bringing their own ideas and expressions; each getting something out of it personally.”

Yarn donations have been collected from all over different communities and will become part of the artwork that graces the old home.  On June 9th, CHF will officially introduce Aurora on the Park to the community at a kick-off event open to the public. Aurora on the Park was made possible through funding from the Government of Alberta and StreetSide Developments: A Qualico Company who are one of 11 homebuilders working with CHF through the RESOLVE Campaign to end homelessness in Calgary. Along with the Government of Alberta, the home builders have committed funding to build 8 affordable housing apartment buildings throughout Calgary over the next 3 years.

Leaving Linda and her team to exercise their creative muscles, I set up camp at the Sunnyside Hillhurst community centre’s Farmers’ Market. The farmers’ market is outdoor for the first time this season, complete with a band and food trucks. The sun is shining and people are out in full force, reveling in the vendors and music. I spent the next four hours with the community’s residents, introducing the CHF’s newest project. News of the Aurora on the Park was received with a welcoming chorus of encouragement and then, as I explain TMC’s work, fascination with the art of yarn bombing.

When one little boy asks me why I’m not selling anything I explain that I’m just here to share with people what we do. When he asks me why, I explain that I work for an organization that helps people who don’t have homes, find them. He pauses for a moment and frowns. Sneaking a glance up at his mother, he offers his bedroom up as a place for someone to stay so that they can have a home too. The mother stifles a laugh as I grin. Before his mother leads him away he asks me to make sure we find homes for people so that they don’t have to be sad. Out of the mouth of babes…

When the market wound to a close I couldn’t help but think about what Linda said about the power of art. “Everybody comes together through art and at the centre of it all, people interact with each other to create, enjoy, share…and in the process they feel a little more connected to this big community we all share.”

Aurora on the Park will be unveiled on June 9th at 3 p.m.

Contact Aaron G. for more information – 403-237.6456