Homelessness is defined as “those who do not have a permanent residence to which they can return whenever they so choose.”
Due to a lack of affordable housing In Calgary there are an estimated 3,500 individuals who live in that defined place called homelessness in our city.
The late Mr. Arthur R. Smith, entrepreneur, politician and philanthropist, founded the Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF) in 1998 to create a unified front to reduce homelessness in Calgary. In 2008, CHF and other homeless-serving sector agencies and community partners launched the Plan to End Homelessness, following year over year increases in Calgary’s homeless count. The Plan saw the provincial government and community partners focus on providing direct supportive housing and programs to the chronically homeless with the knowledge that a lack of affordable housing impedes individuals’ and families’ ability to find and sustain housing in Calgary. Because of those efforts, almost 7,000 people have been provided with permanent housing with supports, there has been a 15% decrease in homelessness in Calgary per 100,000 population and 895 housing placements were made, funded by CHF, through community agencies last year alone.
While great strides have been made, there is still much to do and we couldn’t do it without the supports of our community. In 2015 the Alberta Lottery Fund stepped up to the plate to support two essential positions within CHF in its mission to end homelessness. These positions, The Manager of Acquisitions and Development and the Manager of Communications, align with the strategy outlined in the Plan to End Homelessness and have been essential to the goal of helping individuals find housing with supports. Without the support of the Alberta Lottery Fund for both positions, the Calgary Homeless Foundation would struggle to build the necessary relationships and housing units in the community required to make more affordable housing a possibility.
Both of these roles focus on community engagement as well as the building process. CHF prides itself on being a good landlord and neighbour and much of that depends on the relationship built during the consultation process. The individuals in these positions work with community associations to ensure that architectural guidelines of the community are met and that a Good Neighbourhood Agreement is put in place.
Matt Vermunt is the Manager of Acquisitions and Development at the Calgary Homeless Foundation. “My role contributes to ending homelessness in Calgary through the acquisition of developable land and then guiding these sites through the community consultation, regulatory and approval process. Through the CHF’s RESOLVE partnership, these projects are then paired with a local home builder acting as construction manager and, together with the CHF’s development team, work to provide purpose built, permanent supportive housing units.” Matt’s overall role at CHF is to lead the development of 8-10 projects providing a total of 240 permanent supportive housing units to house some of Calgary’s most vulnerable. Without this role, there would be many Calgarians still without a home today.
Many thanks to the Alberta Lottery Fund, through the Community Initiatives Program Operating Grant, for their generous donation and for their contribution to roles that are essential to helping us end homelessness through affordable housing.
For more information on the RESOLVE Campaign please visit www.resolvecampaign.com.