People First Strategy

People do not choose homelessness. Addiction, poverty, mental illness or an unfortunate life event are not choices people make or want.

Truth is, homelessness is not a choice – it’s about a lack of choice. It’s about not having access to the resources to prevent falling into the current of homelessness, a current so powerful that it cannot be escaped alone.

In Calgary we have a strong network of agencies and dedicated professionals to pull people out of homelessness, working together to guide those in need to safe shores and healthier, more productive lives.

The Calgary Homeless Foundation co-ordinates key resources and directs our collective efforts along the path to success.

Calgary’s Plan to End Homelessness

The Plan to End Homelessness was launched in 2008 by a multi-stakeholder leadership group who knew homelessness could end if tackled strategically. The two key elements are strategy, and the leadership to execute that strategy.

The strategy is to shorten the stay of those using emergency service through a Housing First model. Housing First quickly moves people into appropriate housing, where they receive support and help to address the issues that led to their homelessness.

The leadership is provided by The Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF), acting as the backbone organization overseeing implementation of the plan along with agencies in the homeless serving sector, businesses, governments, the faith community, donors and Calgarians.

Calgary’s Homeless-Serving Sector

Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care is the network of agencies working together to ensure those at risk of or experiencing homelessness have timely access to the right housing with the right supports.

Calgary’s system of care is comprised of eight primary program models:

  • Housing Loss Prevention
  • Outreach, Triage, Assessment and Diversion (Operationalized through Coordinated Access and Assessment)
  • Emergency Shelter
  • Rapid Rehousing
  • Supportive Housing
  • Permanent Supportive Housing
  • Graduate Rental Assistance Initiative (GRAI)
  • Affordable Housing

The care provided by organizations in Calgary’s system of care is considered among the best in Canada. The role of CHF is to provide the leadership and coordination to help the system function smoothly and efficiently.

The Role of CHF – System Planner

As the system planner for Calgary’s Homeless-Serving System of Care, CHF uses their resources, expertise and robust data base (HMIS) to integrate the system, creating greater coordination across the system, along with easier access to services and supports.

Before Calgary launched its Plan to End Homelessness, those at risk of or experiencing homelessness were forced to navigate many homeless-serving agencies to access necessary services. Creating a coordinated system of care allows individuals to connect to the right resources so that the homeless experience can end as quickly and compassionately as possible.

As the System Planner we:

  • monitor how programs function and compare with one another;
  • reduce duplication of services to leverage resources;
  • match clients with the right agencies and services;
  • provide structure to enhance opportunities for service providers to work more collaboratively;
  • determine concrete steps to success for each client;
  • define the level of service quality expected;
  • keep programs accountable to funders; and
  • measure progress to meet Plan goals.

The plan is working!

Enormous progress has been made, and many milestones achieved; homelessness has slowed, thousands have been housed, funding has increased, and the system has evolved into a coordinated and collaborative network of agencies and people working together. All because we set a bold goal, and worked together to achieve it. We will end homelessness – together.

Learn more about CHF’s role as System Planner.