Calgary homeless plan working
Advocates believe Calgary's 10-year plan to end homelessness is on track for success.
Since it began three years ago, 2,300 people have been moved out of shelters and into their own apartments, Calgary Homeless Foundation president and CEO Tim Richter.
Calgary had the fastest growing rate of homeless in the country between the mid-1990s and 2008, but Richter believes that growth had stopped, he said.
"That growth has at least plateaued, and we're beginning to see reductions in emergency shelters," said Richter.
"We saw a spike in 2009 just as the recession began to take hold, but we've been seeing reductions in shelter use since about November 2009. So [it's] a really positive sign."
Their "housing first" approach to homelessness, whereby the homeless are set up in an apartment before their addictions or medical problems are addressed, has been an effective one, Richter said, claiming a success rate of 85 per cent.
There have also been "significant reductions" in police responses to and hospitalizations of their clients, he said.
Richter said the goal is to ensure no one in Calgary will be homeless for more than seven days.
"If we accomplish that, you would see a dramatic reduction in the number of shelters … you wouldn't see people sleeping outside."
But Richter said that doesn't mean people will never again become homeless in Calgary, as there will always be people slipping through the cracks.
The long-term goal of the plan, which launched in January 2007, is to open up 11,250 affordable and specialized housing units in Calgary.