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I graduated with my Masters in Public Policy not long ago. Among the most basic tenets of making good policy – making any good kind of decision, really – is asking the people who that policy will affect for their thoughts and contributions. There are lots of ways our sector talks about this – meaningful involvement, public consultations, community forums, roundtable discussions, client or peer-led initiatives – all of which are undertaken to consult and include people who are affected by the policies, projects and decisions in question.
Six years ago, when Calgary’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness was launched in January 2008, I sat in a room with a few hundred other Calgarians and listened to the details and wondered, “Who are they kidding?” They’ll never end it. Not unless, of course, they end addictions and family violence and divorce and loss and child abuse and a whole host of ills that plague our society and contribute to homelessness in the first place.
Written by: Amanda St. Laurent, Program Manager, Community Development, CUPS
The Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF) who together with Face it Calgary partners commissioned an Ipsos Reid survey earlier this year, take heart from the survey that focused on understanding Calgarians views on homelessness in the city. A similar poll in 2011 found that homelessness ranked fifth on a list of social concerns, while in 2013 it had risen to the third most important social issue facing Calgarians. Based on responses from a cross-section of 600 Calgarians, two-thirds of the respondents believe more should be done now to end homelessness. The survey also revealed that a lack of affordable housing is considered the leading contributor to homelessness with one in three Calgarians believing that affordable housing is the thing most needed to end it. For CHF and its partners, raising awareness around homelessness and the efforts being taken to end it has also resulted in a softening of ‘not in my backyard’ attitudes with fewer people stating they are against secondary suites, programs and low-income housing in their neighbourhoods. Good news for everyone!
Moving a person from homelessness to housing with support provides stability. From that place, each person has the opportunity to make changes to improve the quality of their life. Those changes are often felt in ways the individual and the community at large never imagined.
On April 3rd, Andrea Ransom, VP Communications and Fund Development visited Miss Tamblyn's Grade 4/5 class at W.O. Mitchell School and provided the students insight into Calgary's 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness. She was invited to come and talk to the class as part of their investigations into homelessness in our city.