We are pleased to see the Alberta Government’s continued focus on homelessness and housing first as a priority need area. Additional funding will assist Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care to address some critical pressure points, such as caseload growth, as we work collectively to stably house and enhance the lives of vulnerable adults, youth and children in our communities.
The Alberta Government’s Budget 2017: Working to Make Life Better demonstrates clear, continuous support in key areas of Alberta’s social services infrastructure that will continue to have a positive impact on the lives of Calgary’s most vulnerable. The ongoing commitment to supporting Calgary’s efforts with capital funding for permanent supportive housing for specialized and homeless populations allows us to continue to improve the lives of many and move forward in reaching the goals of Calgary’s Plan to End Homelessness.
It’s encouraging to see that this Government is working to enhance the lives of Albertans by investing in the construction of new health and education facilities and affordable housing, and investing in social services – especially for seniors, families and vulnerable children. With increased access to these vital social and living supports, including much needed support for Indigenous peoples and specialized housing, we will continue moving forward in our shared vision of ending homelessness in our city.
We are pleased with the commitment of $187 million for Homeless and Outreach Support Services. This represents a $6 million increase in spending from last year’s budget, and will directly impact our ability to stably house more people. It also supports our programming and outreach efforts for women and children which helps to build futures. The Government also announced that 24 units of supportive housing will be built in Calgary, providing the much needed housing to directly impact people struggling with substance use. These types of supports make a substantial difference for many people and directly support our efforts to bring stability and quality of life to people experiencing homelessness.
As the system planner for Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care, our research and data informs us. It demonstrates that with sufficient housing and the right resources and support we can prevent and end the experience of homelessness for many vulnerable Calgarians. Improved access to mental health services in community has a direct impact on stabilizing vulnerable people, and Budget 2017’s commitment of a $45 million increase for addictions and mental health support is a positive step in the creation and maintenance of those crucial supports. We also know that supporting vulnerable children and youth is a key aspect of homelessness prevention. We are encouraged by an $11 million increase to early intervention services for children and youth, and the $11 million commitment to support Parent Link centres within Indigenous communities.
Indigenous peoples continue to be overrepresented in Calgary’s homeless population. While Indigenous people make up only 3% of our city’s general population, they account for over 20% of our homeless. Clearly, this population in Alberta is a priority, and it encourages us to see our Government committing $100 million to ensure that every on-reserve household in Alberta has access to clean and reliable sources of water. We will continue to work closely with the Indigenous community to greater align ourselves with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action and to stabilize and improve the lives of Indigenous people experiencing homelessness in Calgary.
Calgary’s Plan to End Homelessness: People First in Housing First was launched in 2008. Since then, our community has made great strides in ending homelessness in our city including housing over 8,000 people and building over 480 units of dedicated housing to those exiting homelessness. Through collaboration within the community, data collection and research-based system planning, we currently have a housing stability success rate of over 92% and have reduced public systems usage by 69%. Ending homelessness saves taxpayers money through housing.
Calgary is a leader in ending homelessness, and over the past 8 years we have positively impacted the lives of many – but there is still important work to be done. With the clear and ongoing support from the Alberta Government in Budget 2017, we know that together, we will continue to house more people, build more futures and save more lives.