Calgary Homeless Foundation

Calgary Homeless Foundation
Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary

Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary

June 12, 2015 10:59 ET

Innovative Program Supports Youth Identifying as LGBTQ2S Experiencing Homelessness

Aura Host Homes first of its kind in Alberta

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - June 12, 2015) - Youth identifying as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transexual, Queer, Questioning and 2-Spirited (LGBTQ2S) will find new doors opening to home through an innovative, first of its kind in Alberta, program launching today.

The Aura Host Homes program, developed by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary (BGCC) in response to a competitive Request for Proposals from the Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF), will match the youth with approved host parents in a safe and supportive home environment. Both youth and host parents will receive ongoing assistance from a support worker as the youth work to develop skills, natural supports and other resources necessary for youth to transition into adult independence.

"Focused responses, including specialized housing programs such as the Aura Host Homes Program, are an essential aspect in meeting this population's needs, and providing secure, affirming, and safe spaces for LGBTQ2S youth, because everyone deserves a safe place to sleep at night," said Dr. Alex Ilona Abramovich, a nationally recognized leader in the area of LGBTQ2S youth homelessness.

The program will serve 16 youth identifying as LGBTQ2S between the ages of 14 and 24 who are at risk of or are currently experiencing homelessness and is aligned with Alberta's Plan to Prevent and Reduce Youth Homelessness (Youth Plan), the first of its kind in Canada. The Youth Plan takes a "families first" approach where youth are supported to return home when possible while recognizing that some youth are unable to return to a safe home and need alternative housing options.

"Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary has been advocating for a targeted response to LGBTQ2S youth homelessness. Now, thanks to the Government of Alberta's Plan to Prevent and Reduce Youth Homelessness, we have one!" Cheryl Doherty, CEO, Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary.

"Everyone deserves a safe place to call home. Preventing homelessness and helping vulnerable Albertans, including our young people, is a priority of this government," said Human Services Minister Irfan Sabir. "This program is a great example of the work we're doing with our community partners to reduce youth homelessness. I am very pleased to lend our government's support to the Aura Host Homes program that helps young LGBTQ2S Albertans who are currently or at risk of becoming homeless. Not only does this program provide much needed safety for these young people, it also gives them the support they need in a caring environment."

Youth are among the fastest growing and most underserved homeless population. Identified as a key population in Calgary's Updated Plan to End Homelessness (www.ihearthomeyyc.com), youth up to 24 years of age experience homelessness in distinct ways, often less visible on the street and more likely to couch surf. Youth are reported to be homeless often as a result of abuse in the home, which exposes them to the dangerous, unstable homeless lifestyle as they seek safety and stability. Additionally, LGBTQ2S youth are overrepresented in the homeless youth population, with reports showing up to 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ2S, more than four times the adult population and often avoid accessing services because of concerns of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.

The Aura Host Homes program will receive funding of $254,000. The project was awarded to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary after an independent panel reviewed responses to the competitive Request for Proposals process. Funded by the Government of Alberta under the province's homelessness plan, continued oversight will be managed by the Calgary Homeless Foundation. This is one year funding with the opportunity for annual contract renewal pending results of CHF program evaluation and continued funding.

"Aura is a community response to a community issue. We all have a role to play in ending youth homelessness in Calgary, and we are calling on the community to join us by opening their homes to support LGBTQ2S youth. We believe the safety and security of a home is the building block for ending a youth's experience with homelessness, and the beginning of a successful transition to adulthood." Kim Wirth, Director of Youth Housing and Shelter, Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary

About CHF

The Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF) is a catalyst and enabler for Systems and Service Agencies to optimize client success. CHF focuses on four strategic pillars of work; Advocacy, Research and Development, Systems Planning, and Funding (outcomes). In addition, CHF addresses gaps and identifies best practices to improve the system of care. Through mobilization of collective impact, CHF is committed to moving forward in partnership with the many homeless-serving agencies, the private sector, government partners, the faith community, other foundations and all Calgarians to end homelessness in Calgary once and for all. For more information, visit calgaryhomeless.com.

About BGCC

For over 75 years, Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary has carried on a tradition of helping young people to discover, develop and achieve their full potential as adults, citizens and leaders, by engaging them in activities that challenge and enrich their minds, bodies and spirits and nurture their self-esteem. Our safe, caring Club environments and enriching programs have enabled thousands of young Calgarians to play, learn and develop valuable skills for life. For more information, please visit boysandgirlsclubsofcalgary.ca

Contact Information

  • Media Inquiries
    Calgary Homeless Foundation
    Louise Gallagher
    Director, Marketing & Communications
    Cell: 587.434.9794
    louise@calgaryhomelessness.com

    Boys and Girls Clubs of Calgary
    Carey Fraser
    Director, Fund Development & Communications
    Cell: 403.860.9799
    cfraser@bgcc.ab.ca