Many people view homelessness as a direct result of poverty, mental illness, addictions, tragedy, domestic violence and other things they see as ‘personal failings’. Often, they think that if the economy is going well, we shouldn’t have homelessness in our city.
Fact is, the major contributors to homelessness in Canada, and Calgary, are not the result of ‘personal failings’ but rather, attributable to three major factors that impact an individual’s ability to plug into the necessary resources they need to sustain themselves, retain housing and be contributing members of society.
In broad terms, these factors are:
- macroeconomic factors (especially unemployment);
- changes to our social welfare system (including a decrease in the availability of government-subsidized housing); and
- the design and administration of policies whose specific intent is to respond directly to homelessness (often referred to as ‘systems responses’ to homelessness – how well we as a community respond to homelessness in our city.) Ten Things to Know About Homelessness in Canada, Nick Falvo, PhD.
The policies and economic conditions that lead to homelessness are big societal issues that need to be addressed through advocacy and policy changes on all levels of government. But the system responses and how well we as a community respond to homelessness in our city? That we can address.
Art Smith established the Calgary Homeless Foundation in 1998 to unify efforts to end homelessness in Calgary through the strategic and focused management of local resources. One body to lead and coordinate the efforts of organizations, agencies and government to boost efficiency and effectiveness on the ground, here in our city.
Together, we will end homelessness in Calgary.
To provide leadership in Calgary’s homeless-serving system-of-care, to ensure it meets the needs of those who are homeless.
The combination of a sound strategic vision and strong leadership has made Calgary a trailblazer in developing powerful programs to end homelessness.