10 year plan 10 year plan to end homelessness acadia place agency alpha house society art in homeless community art smith bill c-400 bishop henry calgary homeless canadian alliance to end homelessness chf clock collaborative art collaborative fund-raising campaign collaborative policing community community action committee ending homelessness faith homeless homelessness homeless services homeless stories housing first john rook mark horvath mayor nenshi phc point-in-time count project homeless connect propsect human services research resolve social enterprise spring clean-up stephen gaetz students students make a difference susan scott this is my city tim richter volunteer volunteers w.o. mitchell elementary school
Days into the start of my role as Vice President of Social Enterprise, the CHF held its Project Homeless Connect event, where people struggling with homelessness can get a meal, haircut and a range of other services. It was a Saturday so I took my 12 year old daughter, Lauren, with me. We were cheerfully greeted at the entrance by a volunteer who gave us tickets for lunch and a map where we could find other services. Lauren whispered to me, "Dad, she thinks we are homeless." As we walked around chatting with people it was clear to both of us that you don’t always know who is struggling.
So what is social enterprise and how can it play a role in ending a homeless struggle that can be both visible and invisible?
Traditionally we see business as only existing to make money. We believe community good can only be funded by government and philanthropy. Social enterprise says we can achieve both – and at the same time.
Some organizations are beginning to create businesses that create jobs for the people they serve, or generate revenue to support their charitable work.
Others are finding ways to repurpose assets, like buildings, to generate different kinds of income.
There is also an emerging area called social finance that is creating new ways for people to invest in their communities. Instead of investing in a GIC with a major bank and generating a 5% return, what if you could invest in a community project and generate that same return? Or what about social impact bonds, where government provides financial incentive for groups that provide innovative programs that save the government money over time?
With the help of ATB Financial, we have created a Social Enterprise Incubator to help explore these ideas. If you have an idea that you think can play a role in helping to end homelessness I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at gerrad(at)calgaryhomeless.com.
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