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UPDATE – Calgary Homeless Foundation’s Updated Response to COVID-19

Posted April 6th, 2020

May 19, 2020

Now, more than ever, housing is vital for health and well-being. Moving Calgarians experiencing homelessness into appropriate housing continues to be a top priority for CHF and Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care. Since March 19, 2020, as a result of our ongoing efforts with community partners, more than 74 Adults, 33 families and 9 youth have been moved into permanent housing with supports – with more being housed on an ongoing basis.

This clearly demonstrates that the availability of appropriate housing in our city is crucial to continuing to provide homes for those in need.

In addition to providing Calgarians with housing and access to support, rapid emergency responses are essential to protect those who are experiencing homelessness from the spread of COVID-19. CHF continues to support the health and safety of our community as the coordinator for Calgary’s Assisted Self-Isolation Site (ASIS). This site has provided isolation spaces to more than 230 Calgarians without a home who are experiencing symptoms or diagnosed with COVID-19.

The ASIS itself consists of 100 units designed to support the isolation needs of vulnerable Calgarians, and to-date has not reached capacity. Individuals requiring access to the ASIS are pre-screened and triaged through emergency departments at medical facilities, and by medical personnel at emergency shelters, as per Alberta Health guidelines.

The safety of our community and those we serve is always at the forefront of our efforts. As the COVID-19 crisis continues to unfold, we are committed to working with agencies within Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care to support and care for those we serve

April 27, 2020

Calgary Homeless Foundation has been made aware that individuals within the Calgary Drop-in and Rehab Centre (DI) have been positively diagnosed with COVID-19, and we are concerned for their wellbeing and for those who continue to support them. We have confidence that Alberta Health Services and the DI have provided these individuals with appropriate supports for self-isolation and recovery and will continue to assess and implement appropriate and measured precautions against the possible transmission of COVID-19.

The safety of our community is a priority for us all, including the DI, who have been following the guidance of public health officials. All agencies within Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care are committed to continuing to work together to ensure that all measures are taken to reduce the risk of the community spread of COVID-19.


April 06, 2020

Calgary Homeless Foundation remains committed to supporting Calgarians who are experiencing homelessness. During this unprecedented time, we continue to work closely with all orders of government, public health officials, and our community partners in creating solutions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 within our community, and we offer our deepest gratitude to Minister Sawhney for her immense dedication and responsiveness through this crisis.

The many groups and organizations working hard to quickly implement the safest and most appropriate solutions have been working diligently to develop a two-fold approach to addressing the needs of people who are experiencing homelessness in our city:

For those individuals who have not been diagnosed with COVID‑19 and are not showing any symptoms:
The Government of Alberta, City of Calgary and shelter operators have increased our community’s ability to shelter individuals experiencing homelessness through COVID-19 in compliance with Alberta Health guidelines. The Telus Convention Centre is an emergency shelter with capacity for 350 people and ensures that individuals can maintain physical distancing guidelines while shelter operators continue to provide support expertise in managing group care sites. Remaining agile and responsive to shelter overflow needs continues to be a priority.

For those individuals who have been diagnosed with COVID‑19 or are showing symptoms:
An Assisted Self-Isolation Site has been established to house individuals in separate, private rooms who are symptomatic, test positive, or have been in contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID‑19. The city of Calgary and AHS Calgary Region have provided input on the selection of the site to address self-isolation requirements for those experiencing homelessness or who have no fixed address. The Assisted Self-Isolation Site will utilize available hotel spaces in Calgary to provide medical supports to vulnerable individuals in a safe, private, and secure environment to reduce the risk of the community spread of COVID‑19.

The Government of Alberta, The City of Calgary, AHS Calgary region and our community partners have been working as diligently and quickly as possible to create solutions to assist our city’s most vulnerable. This is an unprecedented situation and we are encouraged by the dedication and compassion displayed by all who care for those who are experiencing homelessness in our city, and we encourage all Calgarians to continue to practice self-care and physical distancing, and to lead with kindness and care for others.

If you are experiencing homelessness and need help, please click here


Alberta Health Services: https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx#toc-2
Government of Canada: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html
Alberta Health Services – Online Covid-19 Self Assessment: https://myhealth.alberta.ca/Journey/COVID-19/Pages/COVID-Self-Assessment.aspx


If you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, fever, fatigue and shortness of breath), self-quarantine for the recommended period of time (14 days) and contact 8-1-1 for assessment.

Thank you to all of the service providers throughout the city who are providing exceptional care for our most vulnerable citizens. Your tireless efforts do not go unnoticed.

During these challenging times, we encourage all to prioritize your well-being and to lead with kindness and care for each other, as your community members are also working through these trying times beside you.

*Please note, this page will continue to be updated with relevant information. Check back regularly for updates.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is CHF doing to address the possible spread and transmission of COVID‑19?

CHF has modified our practices and the ways in which we convene community. Heeding the advice of public health authorities, large meetings (over 15) that take place in person, such as Coordinated Access and Assessment (CAA), Training and Communities of Learning have been paused or shifted to a virtual process. The safety and well-being of staff, participants, the community and those who are experiencing homelessness is always at the forefront of our decision making.

What is CHF’s role during this pandemic?

CHF continues to fulfill our role as the system level leader for Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care. We have been working in partnership with community to develop both immediate and longer-term solutions. CHF is currently funding medical screening tents at the Drop-In Centre; providing funding for shelter diversion programs; ramping up staff within front-line programs and homecare services; and boosting our city’s outreach supports.

CHF has also spearheaded and managed the coordination and rapid activation of an Assisted Self-Isolation Site to take care of individuals experiencing homelessness (or who have no fixed address) who are symptomatic or have a confirmed case of COVID-19 and do not require hospitalization. People will be pre-screened and triaged into the site through hospital emergency departments and at emergency shelters by medical personnel, as per Alberta Health guidelines.

Is CHF continuing to house those who are homeless?

Yes. We continue to provide care and coordinate housing for Calgarians with no fixed address. Our continued goal for Coordinated Access and Assessment (CAA) is to convene in a virtual capacity and all teams are continuing to participate as best they can. However, we are remaining agile as the situation evolves.

How does a state of emergency impact your work?

The state of emergency allows the Government of Alberta to make decisions more quickly. Our ministry (Community and Social Services) is meeting daily with the shelters and community-based organizations like CHF to identify issues and flag them to the Alberta Provincial Operations Centre (APOC).

What is the most pressing concern at this time?

Right now we’re looking at coordinating our efforts with the Province and the City to make sure that there is an appropriate and measured medical response that allows us to isolate, quarantine, respond, and treat people accordingly, and ensure that front-line staff and their work environments are safe.

How is CHF supporting shelters?

We are currently working closely with our shelter partners to support them through this challenging and difficult time. They are continuing to house people as rapidly as possible and have worked with community doctors to set up spaces for both testing and isolation. We have every confidence that they are taking appropriate measures and are following the recommendations of public health authorities.

CHF is supporting Calgary’s response by funding medical screening tents at the Drop-In Centre; providing funding for shelter diversion programs; ramping up staff within front-line programs and homecare services; and boosting our city’s outreach supports. In addition, we are managing the coordination and rapid activation of an Assisted Self-Isolation Site to take care of individuals experiencing homelessness (or who have no fixed address) who are symptomatic or have a confirmed case of COVID‑19 and do not require hospitalization.

What is CHF currently doing to support people that are at risk of / experiencing homelessness during this pandemic?

CHF continues to fund and support 26 agencies in Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care (CHSSC) to stably house close to 2,100 people with lived experience of homelessness. These supports include disseminating fast-emerging best practices and where possible, additional funding required for COVID-19 needs. This includes distribution of any emergency funding to immediate and longer-term solutions.

We also continue to provide housing to individuals experiencing homelessness through a virtual Coordinated Access and Assessment (CAA) practice. At this time, all teams are continuing to participate as best they can. However, we are remaining agile as the situation evolves.

What is the sector doing to address the possible spread and transmission of COVID‑19?

We have confidence that the agencies with Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care (CHSSC) will continue to assess and implement appropriate and measured precautions against the possible transmission of COVID‑19 within the homeless population. We continue to work closely with our shelter partners (Alpha House, Calgary Drop-In Center) to support them through this challenging and difficult time. They are continuing to house people as rapidly as possible and are working with community doctors to set up spaces for testing and creating physical distancing and isolation spaces. CHF respects that every organization will have their own protocols and procedures in place to address the current situation and how it may possibly affect their service delivery. We are continuing to work with every one of our partners as the situation continues to evolve.

What types of measures are your funded programs taking?

The agencies that we fund are concentrating on their existing sanitation measures and are focused on staff wellness and hygiene as per the guidance of public health officials. Many share our concerns about the well-being of clients in our buildings and programs and have made a resounding commitment to continue to do what they can to ensure the delivery of services to vulnerable Calgarians.

If someone tests positive in shelter, what are you doing to protect the rest of population?

Agencies within Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care (CHSSC) continue to assess and implement appropriate and measured precautions against the possible transmission of COVID‑19 within the homeless population and continue to house people as rapidly as possible. Individuals experiencing homelessness will be pre-screened and triaged at hospital emergency departments and at the emergency shelters by medical personnel based on Alberta Health guidelines and referred for assisted self-isolation as required.

What additional measures are being taken to support front-line workers?

The agencies that we fund are concentrating on their existing sanitation measures and are focused on staff wellness and hygiene as per the guidance of public health officials. Many share our concerns about the well-being of clients in our buildings and programs, and have made a resounding commitment to continue to do what they can to ensure the delivery of services to vulnerable Calgarians.

CHF respects that every organization will have their own protocols and procedures in place to address the current situation, measures to ensure the protection of their front-line staff, and how it may possibly affect their service delivery. We are continuing to work with every one of our partners as the situation continues to evolve.

What are the most urgent needs for people experiencing homelessness?

The agencies and shelters within Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care are working hard to implement best precautionary measures against the transmission of COVID‑19 for all front-line workers and within the population of individuals at risk of or experiencing homelessness. Resources are burdened across our front lines, and the climb to emerge from this crisis is steep. If you are inclined to donate during this difficult time, we encourage you to support these agencies as they are our first line of defense in stopping the spread of COVID‑19 among those experiencing homelessness.

  • A COVID‑19 Community Response Fund has been established by The City of Calgary (including the Calgary Emergency Management Agency), and United Way of Calgary and Area, to support Community agencies who are working diligently to keep Calgarians safe and well by visiting https://calgaryunitedway.org/.
  • In addition, a COVID‑19 Urgent Charity Needs page has also been set up by The Calgary Foundation, for local charities to share their needs with Calgarians who want to help and can be accessed by visiting https://ckc.calgaryfoundation.org/.

CHF will be working directly with both organizations to determine funding priorities for Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care.

What is being done for the people who are in shelters?

We are currently working closely with our shelter partners to support them through this challenging and difficult time. They are continuing to house people as rapidly as possible and are working with community doctors to set up spaces for testing, creating physical distancing spaces and creating isolation spaces to use, if necessary. We have every confidence that they are taking appropriate measures and are following the recommendations of public health authorities.

What happens if there is an outbreak within the programs or shelters?

We will rely on the Assisted Self-Isolation Site and Alberta Health Services supports to contain any potential outbreak.

What information can I share to assist Calgarians experiencing homelessness when they appear to be symptomatic?

If you see a person who appears to be experiencing homelessness and also appears to be symptomatic (or in medical distress) please call 911 and warn EMS if it may be a potential COVID‑19 case.

Are people experiencing homelessness being tested for COVID‑19? Where can they go to be tested?

Individuals experiencing homelessness can go to the Drop-In Centre, The Mustard Seed or Alpha House to be assessed for initial screening. Shelter staff will be able to arrange for testing if required. If the individual requires emergency medical interventions, they will be seen at a hospital or urgent care facility.

How can people who are experiencing homelessness or who have no home self-isolate? Is there somewhere for them to do so?

In addition to the efforts of individual shelters in our city to create isolation spaces, CHF has spearheaded and managed the coordination and rapid activation of an Assisted Self-Isolation Site to take care of individuals experiencing homelessness (or who have no fixed address) who are symptomatic or have a confirmed case of COVID‑19 and do not require hospitalization.

How many assisted self-isolation units are there, is there enough?

Up to 100 units will be available for the self-isolation needs of individuals experiencing homelessness. This is an unprecedented project to safely coordinate, and discussions are underway on a next step to scale additional options where appropriate.

Will individuals experiencing homelessness be able to stay in the Assisted Self-Isolation Site long-term?

Individuals who require self isolation will stay within the site for as long as required under the current AHS and public health orders – or as long as it takes for them to recover.

Where is the Assisted Self-Isolation Site located?

Alberta Health Services and the City of Calgary have guided us in the selection of an appropriate site. We are also following AHS guidelines and best practices towards creating a medical response facility that is safe and secure for both the front-line workers and those who are isolated within the units, as well as taking steps to maintain the integrity of the building itself.

In order to ensure that the response is orderly, coordinated, maintains privacy, and efficiently serves those most in need of this support, the location of the Isolation Centre will not be disclosed.

If I encounter someone with symptoms is it possible to refer them for placement in the Assisted Self-Isolation Site?

No. We encourage any individual experiencing homelessness who appears to be symptomatic to access emergency shelters for pre-screening and triage by medical personnel based on Alberta Health Service guidelines.

Why aren’t all people in shelter being moved into these units?
Why are some people being placed into the Telus Convention Centre and not hotels?

At this time, for individuals who are not diagnosed with or exhibiting symptoms of COVID‑19, our shelter partners have coordinated with the City of Calgary to open overflow centres to ensure that appropriate physical distancing can be maintained.

The designated Assisted Self-Isolation Site units within the hotel are reserved for individuals who require self-isolation due to medical need. For the safety and well-being of all individuals within the building, the need for individuals to be transported to the units will be determined through a pre-screening and triage by medical personnel based on Alberta Health guidelines.

click here to read our previous COVID‑19 statements


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