News & Events

Why do you volunteer?

Shaundra Bruvall | April 20, 2023

Asking the tough questions of our Volunteers this National Volunteer Week:

Why do you volunteer?

We caught up with one of our kitchen volunteers, Howard, while he was working away on today’s lunch meal.

This is Howard.

Every day, Alpha House serves one meal to shelter clients and three full meals for our detox residential program. It certainly keeps our kitchen staff busy; our incredible volunteers help with the workload. But Howard tells us the only reason he sticks around is because he gets to learn cooking tips from Manny [one of Alpha House’s cooks] – like learning how to make “Manny’s famous braised cabbage”, he jokes, lifting the pot to show us the floating purple shreds. “It’s actually very complex!”

Jokes aside, he says he likes to volunteer at Alpha House “because I like being a part of a place where they’re helping people struggling with addiction, it’s a great cause.” Howard started volunteering with Alpha House through our Thursday afternoon sandwich making group. But he prefers the kitchen work. “I started up in the kitchen because I like to cook……and this is more interesting than making sandwiches,” he says, laughing as we snap a photo of him stirring the close-kept secret braised cabbage dish – highly anticipated in the cafeteria that day.

We love having Howard around in the kitchen and appreciate our awesome kitchen staff even though they were clearly bribing Howard before the interview – surely that’s the only reason he told us: “…..and the kitchen staff, Vik and Manny, are great guys.” 😉



Joan laughs when we ask if we can bug her for an interview while she stands whipping ingredients for some baked goods soon to be served as dessert. “Why not?” she says with another giggle. Howard is egging her on from his place by the stove.

“I just moved to Calgary last July, and I wanted to be giving in service somewhere!” Why Alpha House? we ask. Well, it might have something to do with our awesome staff, our exciting volunteer opportunities, or our world-renowned meals…….or maybe none of the above?  “I live two blocks away,” Joan laughs, “so Alpha House was a great fit.”

But we do have things other than proximity to recommend. “I like that the staff and the space are always warm and friendly, and the kitchen has a good vibe as well.” Good vibes, good food, and a good cause – that is definitely what we are about. And Joan says volunteering with Alpha House has also made her even more comfortable speaking with the clients we serve when she’s out on the street. “I worked in healthcare so I’m very comfortable with lots of people. Volunteering here though now I know so many of the people I see on the street so I can talk to them easily.”



Nimira promptly said, “no” and then eventually, “oh okay” when we assured her the interview questions were not brain-stumpers. She doesn’t stop her vegetable chopping as we prompt her to tell us why she volunteers. “I volunteer to make a difference, and to fill the gaps that exist for agencies who otherwise wouldn’t have this support. I want to try and make a difference, and help the disadvantaged in my own small way, and to give back to the city.”

Nimira also noted that Alpha House is her favourite place to volunteer (we didn’t prompt her on that one, we promise). “Alpha House is my favourite place to volunteer; I can see the difference I’m making here firsthand. I also get to meet interesting staff and volunteers, and learn more about the work that they do.” Our staff in the kitchen have clearly created a warm, welcoming, and most importantly… fun environment given we have heard from all our volunteers that interacting with staff is a highlight of volunteering for each of them.

She continues to mention one of the ways that she sees her impact in the community. “I see the DOAP Team out on the streets and I like that I’m able to help them by making sandwiches that they can give out to people in need.”

And since we promised this would be our last question, Nimira grants us a little sneak peek into her life away from Alpha House: “In my free time, I like to walk along the river, and read at the public library. Mysteries are my favourite genre, and my favourite authors are Sydney Sheldon and Jeffrey Archer.”


Alpha House is so pleased to celebrate National Volunteer Week 2023; with the wonderful folks who support our work across all our programs, it makes it easy to celebrate.

Thank you to all our volunteers past and present!

World Social Work Day 2023

Shaundra Bruvall | March 21, 2023

World Social Work Day takes place on 21 March 2023. This year’s theme is ‘Respecting diversity through joint social action,’ recognizing that change happens locally through our diverse leaderful communities. #WSWD2023 provides an opportunity to acknowledge how communities can make powerful actions that lead to inclusive social transformation.

At Alpha House, many of our staff are social workers by trade. We asked them their thoughts on:
“Why Social Work?”
“What do you do to prevent burnout?”
“What is a Social Worker to you?
“What do you love about being a Social Worker?”

Emergency shelter shuttle service provides nearly 200 transports to emergency homeless shelters since last weekend

Shaundra Bruvall | February 3, 2023


Emergency shelter shuttle service provides nearly 200 transports to emergency homeless shelters since last weekend (

doap2As 14 cm of snow blanketed the city last Friday night, Transit peace officers, members of the Downtown Outreach Addictions Partnership (DOAP) Team and a Calgary Transit operator worked to help transport unhoused Calgarians to emergency shelters, hospitals, and other services across Calgary. Weathering temperatures below -20C and finishing at 3 a.m. on Monday, teams completed over 150 transports last weekend alone. Since the program started at the end of November, more than 600 transports have been completed by the shuttle service over 16 cold weather nights.

The emergency shelter shuttle service is a vital component of the Coordinated Community Extreme Weather Response (CCEWR). CCEWR is a four-year pilot program led by the Calgary Homeless Foundation and funded by The City of Calgary to provide support to unsheltered individuals facing extreme weather conditions. Teams work together to bring vulnerable Calgarians to safe spaces during dangerously low temperatures, acting as a lifeline to those who don’t have a warm place to go to. This outreach work happens year-round but the shuttle service, using buses operated by Calgary Transit, enables teams to move larger groups to where they need to go, reducing waiting times and increasing efficiencies for the DOAP Team throughout the city during cold temperatures.

“LRT stations are not appropriate places to seek shelter because they do not have the necessary amenities like beds, potable water or restrooms, nor do they have the resources to support peoples’ wellbeing,” said Deputy Chief of Transit Public Safety Will Fossen.

“Our city’s shelters have been operating at around 75 per cent capacity so far this winter. Demand increases during extreme weather conditions, but they have enough space to accommodate everyone that needs it,” he added.

The goal of the Coordinated Community Extreme Weather Response is to limit barriers to accessing resources. Emergency shelters work with individuals, including those with pets or those who have partners, to find alternate locations and additional services and supports with the goal of finding safe and affordable housing.

Last Wednesday night, the team managed 42 transports. Mark Chevrier, Outreach Program Coordinator at Alpha House had this to say: “42 transports prevents 42 people from getting frostbite, it helps keep people out of hospitals, it’s 42 people who don’t need 911 dispatch or EMS to respond. Most importantly, it’s 42 people who don’t have to worry whether they will even make it through the night.”

Additional warming spaces and other supports are posted on the Calgary Homeless Foundation website here: Coordinated Community Extreme Weather Resource List – CHF.

Calgarians are asked to call the DOAP Team at 403-998-7388 if they see someone who needs help. If someone is in serious distress or non-responsive, they should call 911.

RE: Overdose Prevention Services in Calgary

Shaundra Bruvall | September 23, 2022


DATE: September 23, 2022

RE: Overdose Prevention Services in Calgary


Earlier this week, Alpha House notified some community members that we would be temporarily pausing some upcoming community engagement sessions regarding a potential overdose prevention site (OPS) at our Calgary facility. We believe in the critical need for these services in the community and the pausing of these sessions should not be taken as an indication that we have paused the exploration of the OPS project.

Given the recent news about the Drop-In Centre no longer pursuing an OPS at their Shelter site, we are working with our government partners and community stakeholders to better understand what the new vision is for overdose prevention services in Calgary. Once we have that information, we will have a better idea of the path forward and whether an OPS at Alpha House is the best option for service users and the community.

Alpha House is meeting with the Government of Alberta and other key stakeholders in the coming weeks and we look forward to resuming discussions with the community as we consider the real and pressing need for these services and how, as a city, we can create safe and inclusive communities for everyone.



Shaundra Bruvall

403 478 0387

When to Call DOAP (and when NOT to call DOAP)

Shaundra Bruvall | July 6, 2022

DOAP Overview:

The DOAP Team offers transportation and crisis support for those dealing with addiction issues. The team provides system navigation, and addiction and housing information to those they connect with. The DOAP team consists of two Outreach Workers who respond to calls from the public, businesses, emergency services (EMS, CPS) and other facilities or agencies identifying an individual on the street in need of non-emergency assistance. The goal of the program is to provide a service that reaches individuals struggling with substance use at the street level, to improve the conditions under which people are living and to address their immediate safety. There are times when the DOAP team is the best response for a situation and able to divert individuals from law enforcement or healthcare services BUT they are not always the best response even if the individual in need of support is unhoused. Here are some examples:


DOAP IS the best response

  • an unhoused individual in a vulnerable state (likely under the influence) is in need of transportation
  • highly intoxicated individual is stumbling down the street / stepping into traffic
  • an individual having a poor mental health moment/series of moments is in public and appears vulnerable but no criminal activity is occurring and no weapons are involved
  • an unhoused individual is sleeping in the doorway of a business
  • an individual/group of individuals are readying themselves to use substances in a public space


DOAP is NOT the best response

  • someone is overdosing
  • someone is bleeding heavily and requires medical attention
  • An independently housed individual needs a ride home from the hospital after receiving treatment
  • An individual with access to alternative resources wants a ride to a business or residence
  • An individual under the influence is attacking store front windows / attempting to break into a residence DOAP does not respond to situations of extreme violence
  • A caller suspects an individual on the street may be deceased i.e. is unresponsive DOAP Team is not a medical response




New Mural for Detox Gathering Room

Shaundra Bruvall | June 10, 2022


Trevor G. on Inspiration and the Connection Between Art & Spirit

Sound Artist, Illustrator, Painter, and client of  Alpha House Society’s Detox Program, Trevor G. spoke with us about his spiritual connection to art and recovery, and the inspiration behind the mural he created for Calgary Alpha House’s new Detox Gathering Room.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you originally from?
I was born & raised in Lethbridge. I spent most of my adult life…not in Calgary. I was in Vancouver, then lived in the UK for a bit – in Scotland – I travelled a lot in my 20’s and then I moved to Calgary when I was 32 to try to get sober. I spent 2 years sober, and then the last few years I’ve been in and out of here a lot. I’ve been here a lot. My binder’s like a phone book.

How did you get into art?
Art? Ohh…Well, I’ve always been into art. I was really into children’s books and comics when I was a kid, so I kind of got into drawing that way. My dad used to be an accountant, so he used to come home with that paper that was all attached and….well it was the kind of paper for those old dot matrix printers. He’d bring home stacks of that paper and that got me started drawing. I started making other kinds of art after high school, and now that’s what I’ve been principally doing for my entire life.

Do you have a favourite medium?
I do a lot of sound art. I play in a band that does really arty sort of music. I also work in film, like stop motion. But drawing and painting seems to be where I’ve earned most of the money that I’ve made by creating.

What would you say inspired you to create this specific mural for Alpha House?
The inspiration for this was actually something that Diane (Alpha House’s Detox Manager) gave me – the Seven Sacred Teachings. Each of the teachings is represented by a different animal, and then one footprint.

How is art helping you in your sobriety?
I find it’s a spiritual exercise a lot of the time because I don’t plan at all when I make things. I’d like to take credit for a lot of the stuff that I do, but I feel that it would be a bit of a misstep to do so because so much of it has to do with just putting colours or things onto something and then letting it make itself. There really are no accidents in that sense. I find it meditative, and I find that it connects me. I do consider it a form of prayer or meditation – more so than talking to the sky.

Is the spiritual element of creating art something that inspired your connection to the Seven Sacred Teachings portrayed in this mural?
Yeah, because what inspired my connection to Indigenous Spirituality was when I started coming here to Alpha House. I only ever come here to detox when things get pretty bad drinking wise. I would come here for detox, and it was through the sweat lodges and a lot of the cultural things that happen here that I was able to connect with it. It finds me when I’m at my worst both emotionally and spiritually and so I’m very spiritually thirsty when I come into recovery. Alpha House has always been there for me when I’m at my neediest and Indigenous Spirituality has always been the thing that has been there when I was hungry for it.

Also, as I’m doing the art, I always like to be informed about what I’m painting, so looking into the Sacred Teachings brings me closer…it just makes a lot of sense for me.

Is there anything else that you’d like to add or elaborate on in regard to the project?
To me, it’s an honour to be able to do this because Alpha House has been pretty instrumental every time I’ve begun recovery. This is where I come to clean up before I go into treatment or go back to my apartment. It’s been there when I’ve needed it the most, so this is a swell way to be able to give back. This place does really great stuff and there are lots of people who start here. Some people I’ve met here are now years into their recovery, so I see it as a privilege to create something that is going to be in a room that is going to be used for Alpha House things.


*Interview conducted by Jessica Irving.

Housing Outreach

Shaundra Bruvall | March 17, 2022

Housing Outreach

Alpha House’s newest program is no longer a pilot project. Thanks to funding through the Calgary Homeless Foundation, our Housing Outreach Program has become an ongoing part of Alpha House’s services.

Comprised of two outreach resource workers, the Housing Outreach Program is focused on diverting people away from the homeless-serving sector by providing immediate, temporary supports to prevent entry into homelessness.

In an ideal world, of course, everyone would be diverted from the homeless-serving sector through prevention of the factors that lead to homelessness. In reality, many of the people that Alpha House serves, particularly in our Housing Programs (both Community Housing and Place-Based Supportive Housing), will require some measure of support for the remainder of their lives. These supports are critical for quality of life and are a more dignified, cost-effective response to homelessness than shelters, hospital beds, courtrooms, or jail cells. The purpose of the Housing Outreach Program is to capture infrequent shelter users or individuals who can return to stability quickly with short-term assistance.

The team (currently composed of Alpha House staff members Christina G and Damon R, pictured above) works with roughly 30 clients a month (between 3-4/week) and provides support with Alberta Works applications, ID obtainment, bank account setup, food bank hamper referrals, resource and service connections for medical, employment, and pet supports, affordable housing locating, and damage deposit/first month’s rent provision (among other supports).

“It is really cool to watch someone continue on an upward path after you’ve helped them. They just needed that little bit of support to move forward.”

– Damon

Individually, each of these supports might seem minimal but sometimes even a small bit of help can be a lifeline for someone who is struggling. We are excited to have this program available for individuals who need a little extra support to get back on their feet.

One example of a client the team was able to support back into stability was a guy whose apartment had recently flooded. He had lost all of his possessions in the flood including all of his work gear. As he worked in construction, this was a detrimental loss. He was unable to take on new jobs, had nowhere to live, and no possessions. A series of misfortunes and this individual was suddenly set on an extremely difficult path.

Christina and Damon were able to get this client setup with work gear, a new place to live, and a few belongings to help get him settled into his new home.

“Sometimes you end up in a really tough situation for whatever reason(s) and you end up stuck because there are so many barriers. It can be really difficult for one person to navigate that and sometimes having that advocacy piece [the housing outreach program] makes all the difference.”

– Christina

Referrals for the Housing Outreach Program come from Alpha House’s other outreach programs: DOAP (Downtown Outreach Addictions Partnership) and Encampment as well as our Detox program. But referrals can also come from our partners like the Sheldon Chumir, the Mustard Seed’s Outreach team, The Alex’s Outreach Team, word of mouth, Calgary Bylaw, and Calgary Transit.

Unsurprisingly, a lack of affordable housing remains a huge barrier, which is why relationships with property owners is an important part of this work to ensure clients have options. If we make a good connection and house someone with a certain property owner, they are more likely to connect with us when they have another opening or if other property owners they know have openings.

If you are or know of a property owner who would like to partner with Alpha House, please get in touch with our Housing Outreach program at



A Look Back – 40 Years of Service

Shaundra Bruvall | February 8, 2022

Look to this day. For it is life,

The very life of life.

In its brief course lie all

The realities and verities of existence,

The bliss of growth

The splendor of action. The glory of power-

For yesterday is but a dream. And tomorrow

Is only a vision. But today, well lived,

Makes every yesterday a dream of happiness

And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well, therefore, to this day.


Sanskrit proverb by Kalidasa, poet and playwright

5th Century ad from the opening of Twenty-Four Hours a Day first published 1954 Hazelden


Perhaps those that worked to have Calgary Alpha House Society incorporated and its building remodeled in preparation for opening, were familiar with this poem from the East Indian poet Kalidasa. Perhaps the Justice and Solicitor General, Neil Crawford, who supported the project under Premier Lougheed, was also aware of the simple elegance of this prayer like poem. What seems to have been present beyond the economic bust and boom of Calgary at the time was the intention to address the need for doorways to recovery for those with alcohol and other drug dependencies and the safe and caring environments to make hope a reality.

Alpha House is marking its 40th year of operation in the community of Victoria Park; we officially opened in January of 1982. Born out of innovation, Alpha Centre (as it was then called) opened a shelter and detox together, connected by a shared building and staff, and the common goal of recovery. It opened partly as a way to address the loss of life and limb in Calgary’s cold winters due to frost bite, to ease the strain of policing for those publicly intoxicated, and to help as an AADAC-funded (Alberta Alcohol Drug Abuse Commission, 1951) agency to address the alcohol and drug addiction-impacted migrating population coming to Calgary for oil and gas work.

The origin of the name Alpha House consensus wise is unknown. Alpha and Omega as a reference to Revelation 22:13 wasn’t by all accounts the reason for the name Alpha House, any more being Alpha male or female was the reason.  Alpha meaning ‘the beginning of something’ or the ‘first in a series’, has stuck over the years. First steps, small or big towards a better life for marginalized people and collectively for the betterment of all of Calgary was perhaps the unwritten mission statement at the time. However, one board member from 1985 that I Interviewed in 2009, Stuart Hutton, had a different take. Stuart took the name ‘Alpha’ not as representative of the Greek alphabet or as defined as the beginning of something, nor as a stock market risk adjustment (which is one interpretation). Instead he took the meaning of ‘Alpha’ from astronomy; a name given to the brightest star in the constellation.

He explained at length how the Southern Cross was the brightest constellation visible from earth and, in a rare moment of sentiment, Stuart stated that the entrants (as clients were referred to then) were the brightest stars that often didn’t know it themselves but with care would come to their full understanding and brightness with a little bit of help. House was added, he said, ‘because we wanted people to feel at home’.

I appreciate Stuart’s definition and generosity towards me. As he told it, ‘in the early days at Alpha House the focus was on finding the right staff ‘, who could check their moral assumptions at the door and offer kindness for the women and men that rang the bell to come in and for whom the staff were hired to serve.

Unsurprisingly, Stuart and the Board of 1985 along with the Director W.J. Henry and his staff developed the concept of four teams made up of a Shift Supervisor, Senior Recovery Aide, and a Recovery Aide on rotation, to meet client needs. This opened the door to allow staff to directly impact operations and put the client first in the decisions made about programing. This approach became a benchmark. It also saw the creation of a Client Care Coordinator position in 1985.

Regardless of its origins, the name came to mean treating entrants with the respect they deserved as human beings. This too remains a benchmark.

Our history was marked by humble beginnings and by the determination to meet people where they were at. Without judgement, and with care and safety, Alpha House moved forward.

On Jan 1, 1982, the day Calgary Alpha House Society opened its doors, the AA Mediation for the Day from the little black book ‘Twenty-Four Hours a Day’ may have given inspiration to those founders of Alpha House. I like to think it may provide inspiration for many of us at Alpha House to this day.

“In the new year I will live one day at a time. I will make each day one of preparation for better things a-head, I will not dwell on the past or the future, only on the present. I will bury every fear of the future, all thought of unkindness and bitterness, all my dislikes, my resentments, my sense of failure, my disappointments in others and in myself, my gloom and my despondency. I will leave all these things buried and go forward in this new year, into a new life.”

Some of the story threads may have been lost over the years’ but from what I have learned from those I was able to meet from Alpha House’s beginnings, many of the men and women from AA and AADAC greatly supported the emergence of Alpha House. They welcomed the potential for positive individual change and recovery. Another benchmark.




David plans to write a series of blogs to celebrate Alpha House’s 40 years of Community Service.

A Day with Our DOAP Transit Team

Shaundra Bruvall | November 16, 2021

A Day with Our DOAP Transit Team

The DOAP Transit (Downtown Outreach Addictions Partnership Transit) team is a partnership between Alpha House Society and Calgary Transit (Public Safety and Enforcement). A DOAP Outreach worker is paired with a Peace Officer from the Community Outreach Team as part of a mobile outreach program dedicated to Calgary’s transit platforms, including c-train lines and bus routes. Seth, a DOAP Outreach Worker, has worked with Alpha House for a year and a half. Kitty, a Peace Officer, was a police officer in the Netherlands for over a decade before immigrating to Canada with her husband.

The team start their day at the Calgary Transit/Bylaw headquarters where Kitty is stationed. Seth picks her up in one of the DOAP Transit vans. Each van is equipped with bagged lunches, first aid supplies, harm reduction supplies, and provides passenger transports (capacity COVID-19 dependent). Much like Alpha House’s other outreach teams, Calgary’s vulnerable population know when they see an Alpha House van, they can ask for help.

The team heads over to Forest Lawn. They’re meeting Jack* and Jill*, a couple the team recently found housing for. Supports provided by the DOAP Transit Team don’t end when someone is housed; they continue to work to ensure that the transition into housing is smooth and, most importantly, that housing stability can be maintained over the long-term. Jack and Jill’s first rent payment date is fast approaching and the couple still haven’t been able to get the proper ID needed to open a bank account. Without a bank account the couple will be unable to pay rent and will loose their hard fought for home.

Kitty and Seth drive the couple to their methadone appointment. While the team was able to get Jack and Jill access to a pharmacy and a methadone prescription, they have hit a roadblock in getting the prescription transferred to a pharmacy within walking distance of their house. In the interim, Seth and Kitty are able to check in and make sure appointments are not missed. This a valuable part of ensuring a smooth hand-off in the transition to independence.

They tell Jack and Jill they have been able to locate a resource center not far from where the couple lives. The center is stocked with computers and printers, where they should be able to access the online forms needed to sort out their ID. Jill shares that when they were homeless their belongings were often stolen. Because of frequency of theft while they were living on the streets, hanging on to a phone or identification was extremely difficult for the couple. Couples also face longer waits for housing as most supportive housing facilities in Calgary are segregated by gender. This means couples end up on a long waitlist for community housing vacancies.

After dropping Jack and Jill off, the team heads over to Sunalta Station. They park the van behind the station so they can check the back alleys to see if there is anyone in need of assistance. Kitty does a sweep of the station upon entry. She checks behind ticket machines, in the corners and on the support beams to see if there is anyone sleeping. She says she once found someone sleeping on one of the window frames 100 feet in the air.

Keeping an eye out on the platforms, she spots someone across the station smoking inside. She calls over and motions for him to put out his cigarette. He obliges and appears to leave the station. A man arrives at the station without a mask and approaches Seth to ask if he has an extra one. Seth takes him back to the van to get him a clean face mask.

Once on the train the team does a quick scan of who is onboard and if anyone looks in need of assistance. The team immediately spot a pair they are familiar with and head over. The woman is clutching a bag and keeps dropping her clothes. The team asks if they need any support. They say they’re on the way to a shelter right now and thank the team for their interest.

As the train pulls into each station the team keep an eye out for anyone in need of assistance on the platforms. Kitty motions for us to get off the train and we immediately see why. Two men are in a train shelter and are about to begin smoking a pipe. Kitty explains they can’t do that on transit property. The men put the pipe away and move off. This is not the best outcome but the team sees they have a naloxone kit with them. It is moments like this that offer a great example of the importance of supervised consumption sites. Using alone is dangerous, using in public presents other dangers. Supervised consumption sites allow individuals to use in a safe environment while being connected to supports that can help move them towards stability.

A call comes with a report of someone using on a transit platform. When Kitty and Seth arrive at the station, they find a man holding up a woman who can barely stand. It is clear she has been using and from her body language they suspect the woman is on the verge of overdosing, but she declines the offer of Naloxone. Kitty and Seth stay to monitor the situation. A transit van waits by the platform to provide back up, if needed. After several minutes, the woman is steadied by her companion and they head off together. Kitty shares that she has interacted with this woman many times over the past three years, trying to support her housing and recovery goals. She has so far been unable to support her into long-term stability, but Kitty still looks for ways to help her when and where she can.

Throughout this interaction, a man has been shouting in the background, trying to get the team’s attention. Assessing that he is unconnected to the situation at hand, the team ask him to wait. He gets on the train and Kitty sees him approach a mother with her baby. Kitty intervenes before he is able to engage with the mother to make sure she’s doing okay and stays with her until the man moves off the train.

The team heads back to Sunalta station. Behind the station there is a couple waiting by the DOAP Transit van. They ask for a bagged lunch. Seth grabs two for them. The couple share a bit of their experience. In order to stay together they tend to camp in a park but it causes intense problems for John’s* back. Most days Sarah* needs to lift John out of their tent because his back is so bad. They are on the wait list for housing, but don’t have any idea when they’ll reach the top. They are both on methadone but it doesn’t do as much for John’s back pain as other substances they previously used.

The needs of Calgary’s vulnerable population on the train line are complex, and supporting people’s transition into stability requires a varied and dedicated response. The DOAP Transit program includes 3 other pairs like Kitty and Seth. The team consistently goes above and beyond in their work to reduce unnecessary or inappropriate use of transit services and their work helps to address unmet needs and improve the circumstances of vulnerable Calgarian’s.


*The names of clients in this story have been omitted or changed to protect their privacy

About Alpha House – For Election Candidates

Shaundra Bruvall | September 15, 2021


Thank you for your interest in Alpha House and our work with vulnerable individuals in southern Alberta. We are a trusted non-profit agency that provides safe and caring environments for individuals whose lives are affected by alcohol and other substance dependencies. We currently operate in Calgary and Lethbridge.

Originally established in 1981, Alpha House has a long history of innovating and evolving to meet the changing needs of our clients, the communities where we operate, and the increasing complexities of homelessness and drug use.

Today, we partner with all levels of government, community first responders, and other agencies to help address key social issues such as the opioid crisis, the growing need for supportive housing for vulnerable Albertans, mental health and addiction services, and evidence-based, harm reduction policies such as safe consumption sites.



Permanent-Supportive Housing (PSH)

  • PSH reduces the use of publicly funded crisis services, including jails, hospitalizations, and emergency departments
  • A study of HF programs in Alberta published in 2020 reported cost savings of $1.17 to $2.84 for every dollar invested in housing first

Opioid Crisis

  • A study of 7 SCS programs in Canada found evidence of cost savings through Reduced disease transmission
  • Prevention of overdose deaths (reduced cost of EMS/medical system)



Our programs and services make up a continuum of care, which clients can enter at any point, based on their needs. Our services include:



Short-term, crisis-oriented emergency shelter 24/7 for Albertans under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.




Residential care for clients to safely withdrawal from drugs in a socially or medically supportive environment and a temporary residential care program for clients to transition safely into housing or drug treatment facilities/programs.




Community and permanent-supportive housing programs to ensure housing stability and individualized supports for over 300 individuals.




Mobile response teams for individuals on the streets or in camps to meet clients where they are at and provide immediate supports ultimately reducing the impact of  intoxication  and homelessness on the broader community and public systems.



provides roughly 20,000 transports per year to Shelter, Housing, and Medical services.


works 7 days a week connecting with rough sleepers. At any given time, the team is supporting ~200 individuals


collected  73,155  needle  debris  in  the  2020-2021  fiscal  year.



The needs of those we serve and the communities we are part of are constantly changing. New, unique responses are required more urgently as a result of an increasingly toxic drug supply, increased uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the housing crisis across Canada. Alpha House continues to evolve our programs and partnerships to help meet these needs, including:

  • Expanding of our Encampment and DOAP Transit teams to increase services to vulnerable clients
  • Building stronger partnerships with Calgary Police Services, Calgary Community Standards (Bylaw), and Calgary Transit as well as first responders for increased community-based supports including the introduction of the new DOAP Indigenous Team in October 2021
  • Advocating for more permanent-supportive housing, increased harm-reduction supports such as naloxone and Engaging Vulnerable Persons training for community members, increased access to stabilization and detox facilities and engagement with businesses around responsible, compassionate action for individuals experiencing homelessness



Our work is a direct intersection of homelessness and addiction and mental health. It requires a robust and compassionate community response with extensive supports and programs. Many of the people we serve have experienced significant trauma throughout their life and the resulting coping mechanisms such as alcohol and drug use often lead to increased instability and a greater need for wrap around supports.

Alpha House operates from a Housing First perspective meaning individuals are better able to work on other aspects of their lives if they have shelter security and a place to call home.

Based on over three decades of frontline experience, we know that the best response to helping vulnerable adults is to bring together the collaborative resources, expertise and support from local residents and businesses, as well as key partners and all levels of government. Through a unified, holistic approach, we can support vulnerable Albertans to meet them where they are at and help them find greater stability and wellness in their lives.

To learn more about our work and the latest Alpha House news, follow us on social media.

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