Calgary Homeless Foundation

Calgary Homeless Foundation

January 29, 2008 09:00 ET

Calgary Homeless Foundation: Committee Unveils Calgary's 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness

Cost of homelessness in Calgary pegged at $322 million annually. Ambitious plan promises to end homelessness in 10 years with a $3.6 billion savings for taxpayers.

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - Jan. 29, 2008) - The Calgary Committee to End Homelessness today released its 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness. The plan represents a fundamental shift from managing homelessness to a community-wide effort to end it. The plan includes strategies that have proven successful in other jurisdictions as well as some new local innovations.

"On January 9, 2007, a group of leaders from business, the non-profit sector, faith, health and all three levels of government came together to stand up and say that we could no longer tolerate the homelessness of so many of our fellow Calgarians," says Steve Snyder, Chair of the Calgary Committee to End Homelessness. "We committed ourselves to developing a 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness in our city. Today we are delivering on that commitment.

"Calgary's 10 Year Plan contains practical, results-oriented solutions that cut through the underlying systemic barriers. It rewards personal accountability and initiative; it helps people move to self-sufficiency and independence; it ensures people will receive the care and support they need when they need it; and it will result in a net cost savings to taxpayers."

Homelessness in Calgary has risen 650 percent in the last decade. On any given night, more than 3,400 people including families with children, sleep in shelters, on the street, or in their cars. At the current rate, the committee estimates that there could be as many as 15,000 people homeless in Calgary on any given day by 2018.

At that rate, the committee estimates taxpayers would cumulatively spend over $9 billion in the next 10 years and wind up with a homeless problem five times worse than today. By executing their plan, the committee is confident homelessness in Calgary will be eliminated and a cumulative cost savings of over $3.6 billion realized.

According to a study completed for the Committee by national accounting firm RSM Richter & Associates Inc., homelessness in Calgary costs more than $322 million annually. This translates into an annual cost per person of $134,000 for each of Calgary's estimated 1,200 chronically homeless individuals.

"Economically, homelessness costs taxpayers far more to manage it than it will to end," says Snyder. "The up-front investment in this plan will pay for itself by 2016 as the number of people experiencing homelessness declines, and the related costs are reduced."

The plan has both short- and long-term goals. In the short term, it aims to create rapid, visible and meaningful change by focusing attention on chronic homelessness and prevention. In the longer term, the plan calls for the creation of 11,250 affordable and specialized housing units over the next decade and proposes major systemic changes to eliminate barriers that currently entrench homelessness.

The guiding philosophy of the plan is a proven concept called "Housing First" which puts the highest priority on moving homeless people into permanent housing with the support necessary to sustain that housing. Key elements of the plan include coordinated intake and assessment, city-wide case management and a Homeless Management Information System that will bring a more consistent, coordinated approach to Calgary's homeless-serving system.

The Calgary Homeless Foundation has been charged to lead the implementation of the 10 Year Plan.

"The mission of the Calgary Homeless Foundation is to end homelessness in Calgary," says Wayne Stewart, President and CEO of the Calgary Homeless Foundation. "We have the capacity, ability and courage to take on this challenge.

"We're going to move forward in partnership with the many homeless serving agencies, the private sector, our government partners, the faith community, foundations and all Calgarians to end homelessness in Calgary once and for all."

The Calgary Committee to End Homelessness was formed on January 9, 2007 as a community response to our homelessness crisis. The committee includes 28 senior leaders from the private, public and non-profit sectors, the faith community, healthcare and foundations.

For electronic copies of Calgary's 10 Year Plan, visit www.endinghomelessness.ca.

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