Don't come to Calgary, shelter warns families

An organization that gives the homeless food and shelter is warning families not to come to Calgary without a place to stay.

An organization that givesfood and shelter to the homeless is warning families not to come to Calgary without a place to stay.

Inn from the Cold is dealing with a record number of families needing shelter and may soon have to turn people away, executive director Diana Segboer saidThursday.

Volunteers have started telling callers from across the country not to move to Calgary unless they have friends to stay with or money for a hotel room.

"They are coming because work is here and, unfortunately, what is happening is there is no place for them, other than the emergency shelters, to stay," she said. "We're having a hard time taking care of the ones that we already have in our system."

Inn from the Cold is a network of more than 67 churches and organizations that provides meals and shelter for30 to60 homeless people each night, giving priority to families.

Rents rising, vacancy falling

Compounding the problem are swiftly rising house prices and a falling rental vacancy rate, Segboer said.

Two years ago, landlords complained they couldn't find enough renters to fill their buildings. Today, a flood of people moving to the city has dropped the vacancy rate to less than 1.6 per cent.

The Calgary Apartment Association notes that most landlords are raising rents. One company announced this month it was raising the rent on 1,200 apartments across the city by about35 per cent.

The lack of affordable housing could also add to Calgary's labour woes.

In June, the Conference Board of Canada warned that Alberta could face a labour shortage of 332,000 workers by 2025 if current trends continue.