WATCH ABOVE: Former clients of homeless shelters shared their stories of their struggles and how affordable housing has turned their lives around. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports.
CALGARY – There were some inspiring stories Saturday at an event designed to update Calgarians on the state of homelessness in our city.
Former clients of homeless shelters shared their stories of their struggles and how affordable housing has turned their lives around.
It’s been five months since Randy Pages went from being homeless to having a home.
He now lives in an affordable housing unit in Bankview.
“When you are homeless on the streets here in Calgary it makes things difficult. You don’t think about tomorrow, you don’t think about the next day you’re just worried about today,” said Pages.
Pages was speaking the event at Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS), in partnership with the Calgary homeless foundation.
CUPS is a charity dedicated to helping individuals and families overcome poverty.
The number of people living on the street in Calgary has dropped 15 per cent cent since the city’s 10-year plan to end homelessness was started in 2008, according to the Calgary Homeless Foundation.
“We’ve definitely got a lot of work to do, we certainly need more affordable housing and different types of affordable housing but we’re not losing the battle by seeing it increase every year,” said Carlene Donnelly with CUPS.
Affordable housing has been the key to getting people off the streets.
“If it weren’t for affordable housing, I really don’t think I’d be here. I don’t think I would be dead but I may be in jail. I may have slid back into my addictions, which I fought for years to overcome,” said Pages.
After five years of staying mostly at the Mustard Seed, Pages has been overwhelmed by the support he’s been given.
“Getting up and going to the fridge and getting a glass of milk. a lot of things people take for granted. Or even just getting up and looking in the fridge and realizing you got nothing in there. But at least you can look in your fridge,” said Pages.
It’s little things like that that make you feel so much better the kind of humanize you again.
Pages is now volunteering as a peer outreach worker to help others who are going through similar struggles.
“It’s the challenges that make the character that you are.”
“I believe that going through all these tough times, that it has shown me who I am inside and I’m actually starting to like the person I am becoming.”
CUPS says with the economic downturn, even more people in Calgary are facing an uncertain future and that it’s going to be a challenging year for them.
According to CUPS, poverty is something that one in ten Canadian families face daily.