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Calgary Emergency Cold Weather Winter Response – UPDATE
March 18, 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 687 individuals this week. Tuesday and Wednesday were busier due to colder weather.

Provide basic winter safety essentials

This week’s update:

  • The Outreach Basic Needs Distribution Centre fulfilled orders for six outreach teams worth a total of $30,228.51 this week, including food and water, winter clothing, hygiene items, PPE, and harm reduction supplies.
  • Overall, 17 different outreach teams have accessed the Outreach Basic Needs Distribution with a total of 52 orders. Average cost per order is $5,856.00. 

Support community efforts to reduce barriers to accessing shelter

This week’s update:

  • Mustard Seed Outreach expansion had 51 contacts, gave out 75 basic need items and completed 9 transports.  
  • Alpha House DOAP Main team completed 465 transports. Of those transports, referrals they completed were: 21 from CPS, 10 from EMS, 24 from Bylaw/Transit, 3 from Calgary Fire and 26 calls from concerned citizens. 
  • CHF is offering two sessions of Suicide Assessment and Intervention training in March to outreach teams. The first session this week has 23 registrants.  

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 following blog post is a condensed version of Calgary Homeless Foundation’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy Submission. You can read the full submission HERE.

The Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF) submitted recommendations for the redesign of the Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) on Thursday, August 24, 2017.  Through the HPS, the Government of Canada provides support and funding to communities to develop local solutions to homelessness. We applaud the Government of Canada’s Budget 2017 announcement that it would expand and extend funding for the HPS beyond 2018-2019. The Government has tasked an Advisory Committee on Homelessness to provide recommendations for a redesign of an expanded HPS.  A brief summary of our survey response and submission to the Committee is below.

  1. We believe that an expanded HPS should:
  • Make federal and provincial homelessness funding co-ordinated, consistent and transparent;
  • Align HPS fund administration structures to the development/ organizational life stage of a community; and
  • Increase resources, including staffing, for the Homeless Individuals and Families Information System.
  1. CHF data supports the efficacy of the housing first approach to stably house people experiencing homelessness and reduce public systems usage, when properly resourced and implemented.
  2. CHF believes that one way to prevent homelessness is to reduce poverty, and we look forward to recommendations that will soon be made by the advisory committee for a national poverty strategy. We have submitted recommendations of our own as part that process which can be found here.
  3. A number of promising practices at a systems level have had a significant impact on improving housing stability for people experiencing homelessness in Calgary. These include:
  • Coordinating Access and Assessment
  • Providing Training and Accreditation
  • Participation in the Recovery Task Force
  • Membership in Collectives with Aligned Missions
  • Empowering the Client Action Committee

Looking for ways to share your opinions and find out more information?

The Government of Canada’s Advisory Committee on Homelessness is inviting you to join the conversation and participate in online consultation until August 31st.  Find more details here.

Feel free to share our response via e-mail or social media to your local MP and the Advisory Committee on Homelessness.

On August 25th, the Calgary Homeless Foundation received a gift from a little girl far beyond her years. She sent us letter, painstakingly crafted in the way of children, with a donation and a touching explanation as to why she chose us.

Having travelled here from Florida to visit our city and the Calgary Stampede with her parents, Hannah described Calgary as a “wonderful place” with the exception of one thing. She was brokenhearted to see all those experiencing homelessness all alone in the streets. “I was so ashamed that I couldn’t help them that I put my head down when I walked by and sometimes I held back tears,” she wrote to us in her letter.

From the sunshine state, Hannah wanted to help bring the warmth of Florida to those living on the streets and has generously donated $101 dollars to the Calgary Homeless Foundation, virtually emptying her piggy bank in hopes of making a difference.

Why $101 you ask?  “The odd sticks out,” Hannah explains in her letter, “the odd people of the world make the difference.”

How true.

Hannah describes herself as a Floridian that likes to bring the warmth of God to the world. Regardless of what drives this little girl’s generosity, we thank her.

We thank her for electing to make a difference and for moving past her feeling of helplessness to simply do what she could.

Thank you Hannah for seeing those individuals that so many see through.

We’ve all been there. At one point or another, we’ve all averted our eyes and walked past those living on the streets, telling ourselves that it’s not our fault. That there’s nothing we can do to help, nothing we could offer. Or we judge, thinking that we cannot help those who “won’t” help themselves.

But young Hannah has proved otherwise.

For one so young to acknowledge her own sense of shame in being unable to help those living on the streets is incredible. To then take action is remarkable. We could all learn a lesson from Hannah about moving past our own judgements to simply feel compassion. We could all learn that every small act of kindness makes a difference. There are no rules or quotas on how to lend a hand. Simply that we do.

If you are like Hannah and looking for ways that you too can make a difference, please contact Sharon deBoer, Director of Development at sharon@calgaryhomeless.com. To view the last two pages of Hannah’s letter, click here: Page 3  Page 4

 

Written By Nicole Jackson, Research and Policy Analyst , CHF

A number of months ago, our blog post focused on the work of the Client Action Committee in relation to a project collaborating with the Alberta Human Rights Commission to explore the rights of people experiencing homelessness. Client Action Committee is a group hosted at CHF of persons with lived experience (past or present) of homelessness, who help conduct research and inform a number of different components of the work we do.

That work has continued, and as the project approaches its conclusion, we invited Client Action Committee members to reflect on what their participation in the committee and on this project has meant to them.

Working on the Homeless Charter of Rights Project, surrounded by people with deep knowledge and understanding of the lived experience of homelessness has been humbling. It’s also been fun. One day, after letting the committee know I was writing this blog about my experience of working on the project, a member turned to me and asked plainly: “Well, what have you learned from us?” I chuckled, and stared at the table – not for lack of a response, but for the overwhelming nature of the question. What did I learn from this group of courageous, hilarious, hard-working people who ventured to share parts of their lives with me?

I reflected back to them that I learned more than I could simply tell them right there, right then – that my stuttered response was a function of too many things coming to mind.

I told them I learned about the courage and resilience of people who experience homelessness, of the importance of attitude, about what bravery looks like.

I learned about what the landscape of homelessness looks like in Calgary – what resources people rely on, which ones they love, what moments of the year are critical, what facility serves the better free coffee.

As much as I could from their willingness to share, I learned to understand how marginalization and stigmatization shapes how you view the world, and how after a while, your very posture can change the way you interact with everything.

I learned how I could do my job better. I learned how to be a better citizen in Calgary.

And then slowly, we circled the table, each person saying what the experience had meant to them, what the project had taught them. They said:

  •  “I learned a lot about myself – my abilities, strengths, weaknesses.” Having the opportunity to do new things like public speaking “helped me in acknowledging my own insecurities and taking steps to overcome them. I have what it takes to make a difference – in my life, in others’ lives.”
  • “I do believe I am a better person for attending these meetings.”
  • “CAC helped me with “realizing I’m not alone.”
  • “Being here opened my eyes…friends would give me something to bring to the table. I want to give back. All the opportunities that I’ve had [interviews, projects, speaking] showed me that people really do care – which makes me want to give back.”
  • “It’s an honour to be a part of this project. I can see my own self, my own eyes we are making a difference. I like being a part of the change, a positive change. It all goes together with my life now.
  • “it’s a bridge between us and them, bridging a major gap, publicly there seems to be more publicity of homelessness and not in a negative way. It feels good to do this, it’s part of my life to know [know my rights] now.”
  • “What I learned from you guys and being in this group is the compassion that people have for each other.”
  • “If somebody had an issue, you [all] listened to us…sometimes it just helps to get things off your chest.”

Universally, what every member said – in their own way – was that through their participation, they learned about themselves. They learned about their own strength, their unique perspective, their abilities. They reflected this with sheepish smiles, with overwhelming pride, with a chuckle about their surprise at their own capacity.

 This so frequently feels like some of the most important work we do – the kind of work where we learn from each other, where the learning is a two-way street (or maybe more like a gigantic, jumbled, multi-road intersection). Maybe when we learn, it’s best if we all learn together.

 Stay tuned for more information about the Homeless Charter of Rights

as we prepare to share our findings at a launch in Calgary this spring!