After they moved, they spent anaverage of just seven days in hospitalduring the nine months studied.
“Once people are safely housed andsupported––and those things have to gotogether or else the housing is unstableor isn’t permanent enough––they canthrive,” Braul says.
Homelessness across Alberta
However, funding is in short supply,leaving both urban and rural areasstruggling to find a home for everyone.
Rural homelessness is “definitely an
emerging issue,” says Dee Ann Benard,
executive director of the Alberta Rural
Development Network (ARDN), a
non-profit agency comprising nine
home for older adults who have low
incomes; some also have an addiction or
mental illness. If they didn’t live here,
chances are high they’d be homeless.
“It makes me feel so good,” Monroe
says of her one-bedroom apartment. “I’m
But not everyone in need of a home is
so lucky (see sidebar).
“Everyone needs a home,” says BrianLadd, a policy analyst in Alberta HealthServices’ Healthy Public Policy unit.
“When we don’t have a place to live that
is safe, in good repair and affordable,
we are more vulnerable to getting sick
or to being injured. So how we choose
to produce and distribute good housing
in Alberta is an important population
And affordable, available housing is
an indicator of a community’s health.
People who are homeless are usually
far less healthy than those who have
secure housing. And those who get by
through couch surfing with friends and
family, or living in overcrowded shelters
or unstable rental situations, also face
greater health risks. Among the risks are
serious physical and mental illnesses,
addiction, assault, unemployment,
hunger and difficulty getting healthcare,
says a 2010 report by the Research
Alliance for Canadian Homelessness,
Housing and Health.
In a healthy community, people
work together to meet the needs and
ensure the dignity of its most vulnerable
members. Making sure everyone is
properly housed requires work on a
number of fronts—not just providing
enough decent places to live, as
important as that is, Ladd says.
“Communities in which everyone isadequately housed are communitiesthat have decided that addressing theroot causes of poor housing—such aschronic poverty, untreated addictionsand mental illness, domestic violence,and discrimination and racism—is a toppriority for life together.”
A decade ago, Alberta announceda 10-year, $231-million plan to endhomelessness. The plan paralleledlocal commitments by Alberta’s 7
Cities on Housing and Homelessness,a collaboration of seven organizationsresponsible for finding ways to endhomelessness. Municipal governmentsand groups across the province launchedthoughtful and bold strategies to put aroof over the head of everyone in theircommunities.
Trinity Place Foundation of Alberta isone of them. The non-profit is a partnerin the RESOLVE campaign––nine socialservice agencies that raise money toprovide affordable housing in Calgary.
The foundation also manages Monroe’s
provincially subsidized building.
Spending money to give people whoare homeless a home is money wellspent, says Lawrence Braul, Trinity’sCEO. Researchers found some residentsof Peter Coyle Place had spent anaverage of 127 days in hospital, at a costof about $1,000 a day, in the year beforethey moved to the residence.
is an indicator of a