Struggling homeless shelter buys ads seeking donations
A Calgary agency that provides shelter for homeless families has had to dip into its operating budget to purchase advertisements asking for donations.
Inn from the Cold executive director Diana Segboer said there's been a 90 per cent jump in the number of families showing up at the shelter from a year ago.
"We're scrambling, without a doubt. We are definitely scrambling," she said.
"I see that the summer is only going to increase. I don't see that the job situation in Calgary — where there are less and less temporary jobs which is what our families require to sustain themselves — I don't see that getting any better. I don't see rents going down so I see the situation getting worse and the agencies helping only being more and more strapped."
Segboer said the changing economy, the lack of affordable housing and recent changes to the province's homeless eviction program has meant more homeless families turning to her organization for help. Before needy families could access the provincial money as many times as needed to cover shortfalls in rent and utility bills. Now that money is only available once every three years.
Mother wishes better life for baby
Monique Beardwood, her husband and their seven-month-old baby Marissa have been living in a small room at the shelter at 10 Street and 11 Avenue SE since they were evicted from their apartment almost three months ago. She isn't working and her husband is working on-and-off, she says it was hard to pay for food and the high rent.
"I had to give up my home," she recalled. "I cried. I looked at my home and I looked at my family and I was just like what did I do wrong?"
Marissa is one of eight babies under two years old currently staying at the shelter.
"Some days it can be really stressful and I look at her and wish I can do better for her," Beardwood said.
Segboer estimates in costs about $100,000 a month to operate the family shelter, which can house, feed and assist up to 80 families. Most families stay about three months.
"My team is out there trying to meet all the needs. We're definitely dipping into what ever finances we have to be able to meet all the financial requirements," Segboer said.
Besides trying to pay for day-to-day costs, Inn from the Cold has to repay a $2.5 million loan from a local philanthropist that helped the agency buy the homeless shelter last year.