Calgary Homeless Foundation



Calgary Homeless Foundation

February 19, 2014 16:13 ET

Data Shows Most Emergency Shelter Users Stay Less Than Two Weeks

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - Feb. 19, 2014) - For the vast majority of emergency shelter users, Calgary's homeless-serving system works well, according to a recent review of data from the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre (The DI) from 2009 to 2012. The data shows that 84% of emergency shelter users stayed less than two weeks and had less than two episodes of homelessness in the four-year period. These individuals are considered transitionally homeless and largely rely on their own resiliency and supports to exit homelessness.

"With two-thirds of the province's shelter users in Calgary, progress here is pivotal to ending homelessness in Alberta," said Manmeet S. Bhullar, Minister of Human Services. "I'm pleased to see this data because it verifies that by helping those most in need our goal is within reach."

On the other end of the spectrum, The DI data points to 2% of emergency shelter users who had chronic shelter stay patterns, staying an average of just over two years and taking up 40% of shelter spaces in the four-year period. In between these two populations was a group of 14%, who went in and out of shelter an average of seven times in four years, spending an average of three months in shelter: these individuals are called episodically homeless.

"We have been successful at housing some people," said Debbie Newman, Executive Director, The DI. "More services and programs need to be developed to assist each individual in their efforts to move forward with their lives."

There are emergency shelter spaces for more than 1,900 people in Calgary, including spaces for youth, women fleeing domestic violence and families. The DI is the largest provider with about 900 spaces. Data from other Calgary emergency shelters points to the same trend of most people staying for a short period, while a minority remain in emergency shelter for months and years. The CHF, DI and other agencies will continue to analyze data so as to prioritize and focus housing and support programs.

"Since 2008, the community has come together to build a more coordinated system where we can prioritize needs, match people with the right kind of housing and support, and then measure results," said Gerrad Oishi, interim President and CEO. "As we better understand the need, we can scale this system to size."

According to The DI, the role of emergency shelters is changing: a mere one-third of the people seeking support from The DI sleep there. Some people come solely for the seniors centre, meal program, laundry services, the hygiene office and general socialization. These service numbers are not captured in emergency shelter figures, but in other data sources, and The DI is advocating for more to be done to improve these individuals' economic and social wellbeing.

A more detailed report on The DI's shelter data can be found here.

The goal of the 10 Year Plan is that by January 29, 2018, an individual or family will stay in an emergency shelter or sleep outside for no longer than one week before moving into a safe, decent, affordable home with the support needed to sustain it. The CHF is updating the 10 Year Plan for release in the summer of 2014.

The DI prevents homelessness, where possible, offers care and shelter when needed, and provides opportunities for people to rehabilitate and rebuild their lives. For more information, visit thedi.ca.

The CHF leads implementation of Calgary's 10 Year Plan with agencies, the private sector, government, the faith community, other foundations and all Calgarians to end homelessness in Calgary once and for all. For more information, visit calgaryhomeless.com.

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