WATCH ABOVE: Doug Vaessen speaks to advocates for Calgary’s homeless population about ongoing efforts to address the problem. A recent report shows the city is still home to about half of Alberta’s homeless people but the Calgary Homeless Foundation says it has a number of initiatives underway that should soon put a significant dent in those numbers.
CALGARY- A new report shows over half of Alberta’s homeless population is living on Calgary’s streets. That’s over 3500 people. This, despite a major effort to help our city’s most vulnerable.
Some homeless advocates say the numbers don’t show all the progress being made.
It’s become a destination, people moving here looking for opportunity but Nathan Patterson can see how easily that dream can turn into a nightmare on cold Calgary streets.
“It could happen to anyone, I mean things change quickly markets change availability of jobs change,” Patterson said.
Diana Krescy is the CEO of the Calgary homeless foundation – she was on the streets herself last October for the first time taking part in the homeless count.
“A number of things really struck me number one in the first half hour I was talking to people out on the street I didn’t meet somebody from Calgary everybody was from somewhere else,” Diana Krescy said.
And in an expensive city with little affordable housing, here is where Krescy hopes to help the most with efforts like Resolve – nine agencies coming together to raise $120 million and with 9 local builders build homes for 3000 people.
“The answer is to not keep them in shelters but get them into stable housing and on to their lives.”
The Alberta point in time count of homeless reveals that over 20 percent of our homeless are under 24 and a startling fact about them, about 40 percent of the youth who are homeless have some sort of issue or concern related to LGBTQ.
Which is a concern for the Calgary Sexual Health Centre.
“Have they been kicked out because their family is not supporting them or is there other things going on around their coming out experience like addictions mental health problems depression things like that so first of all as with all homeless people find the route of the problem the second thing is to create safe spaces,” Pam Krause from the Calgary Sexual Health Centre said.
The ten year plan to end homelessness is now entering year seven.
“Today, if we were to look at this city and look downtown we would have approximately 9000 people on the street we would be looking like East Hastings but instead we have 3500 people that we are working with and trying to get housed and we have already housed 6 thousand so we are doing great work we just cant give up,” Krescy said.
Even if many challenges remain.
To find out more about resolve and a made-in Calgary solution to build affordable housing, go to the website.