Province pays $3M to give Bedford House a permanent home

The province is spending $3 million to build a new halfway house for former prisoners in Calgary, which will be run by the John Howard Society.

Supportive housing for parolees aims to cut risk of reoffending

Deputy Police Chief Trevor Daroux, Craig Hill, Marjorie Hunchak and Minister Sabir made the announcement in Calgary on Friday.

The province is spending $3 million to build a new halfway house for former prisoners in Calgary, which will be run by the John Howard Society.

The brand new facility, called Bedford House, will be built in Manchester, a light industrial park just east of Macleod Trail at Builders Road S.E.

"Everyone deserves a safe place to live, with access to the supports they need to thrive in their community — that includes individuals trying to rebuild their lives," said Human Services Minister Irfan Sabir.

"To do this, these individuals must have access to a place to call home... This helps reduce the risk of homelessness and re-offending," he added.

The facility has been operating out of a temporary location in Forest Lawn. It was forced to move from its original location in Victoria Park, when the property was expropriated for expansion of the Calgary Stampede grounds.

The new facility will provide short-term supportive housing for 32 men, said Marjorie Hunchak, chair of the board of the Calgary John Howard Society.

"Providing support and transitional housing to individuals being released into the community increases their likelihood of success and can break the cycle of poverty, homelessness and crime," Hunchak said.

According to a recent study by the Calgary Homeless Foundation, with housing in place with supports, there is a 50 per cent decrease in emergency room visits, a 63 per cent decrease in police interactions, and a 96 per cent drop in incarceration.

That results in an estimated saving of $34,000 per homeless person per year in Alberta, according to Craig Hill of Resolve, an umbrella group of nine Calgary agencies that is also contributing to the cost of the new facility.

Trevor Daroux, Deputy Chief of the Calgary Police Service, said the program not only restores lives, but helps make communities safer.

"Bedford House provides support, it provides hope, and it provides opportunity. It breaks that perpetual cycle and allows for a transition away from a life of crime."

With files from the CBC's Evelyne Asselin