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Helping unhoused people during the next cold snap

By Julieanne Acosta, January 30 2023

As extreme cold weather is not an uncommon feat for Calgarians, it becomes vital that we are aware of the support systems in place to help unhoused people during that time.

In 2022, at least 239 unhoused individuals died in Calgary alone. The Calgary Homeless Foundation is an organization that recognizes this problem and is actively seeking ways to help ensure adequate housing and support for those in need. 

The Calgary Homeless Foundation defines success in two ways — functional zero and housing first. 

“Functional Zero means we prevent people from experiencing homelessness or, if they do, their experience is brief and never happens again,” read their website. “Housing first means we move people directly into housing with the supports they need, because everyone deserves a home with no conditions attached.” 

The statistics provided by the organization show that the state of homelessness in Calgary has decreased by 32 percent per 100,000 people. However, there are still 1,935 people counted as unhoused and 15,600 people in extreme housing need. 

The Calgary Homeless Foundation is partnered with more than 17 social serving agencies and 23 outreach teams to provide a community-coordinated extreme weather response. 

In a statement to the Gauntlet, the Calgary Homeless Foundation’s Vice-President of Strategic Investments and Community Impact Matt Nomura touched on the issue of homelessness in Calgary.

“If you come across someone experiencing homelessness, be kind. Homelessness is not a reflection of the person. It reflects a societal response to vulnerability. All of us must remember that homelessness does not discriminate, and it could happen to anyone,” said Nomura. “We envision the day when homelessness is rare, brief, and nonrecurring — perhaps an episode in someone’s life, but never a condition that defines one’s life.”

Students can also help support the Calgary Drop-In Centre by donating old winter clothes or building a Frosty Bite Kit to help Calgarians stay warm and safe during the winter. 

To learn more about the Calgary Homeless Foundation, visit calgaryhomeless.com. To learn more or get involved with the Calgary Drop-In Centre, visit calgarydropin.ca.

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