News & Events

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

 

 

 


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


On Friday November 29th, the City of Calgary Council announced that Alpha House will receive $200,000 in funding to help keep our DOAP team on the street.

Shaundra Bruvall | December 1, 2019

This financial support brings us closer to our fundraising goal of $800,000, which is needed to keep our DOAP program running at its current capacity in 2020. We are so thankful for the City of Calgary’s commitment to DOAP’s unique work serving Calgarians who need our help. Alpha House will continue to collaborate with other City and community services to keep all of our DOAP teams on the street, serving as many citizens as possible. On behalf of the Alpha House team and the people we serve, thank you to Council for this funding support.


Holiday Concert to Help Keep DOAP Team on the Street

Shaundra Bruvall | October 1, 2019

Calgary –  A beloved holiday season tradition, The Huron Carole, is dedicating its proceeds to helping to keep the Alpha House DOAP team on the street in 2020.

Tom Jackson & Friends Present ‘The Huron Carole’ in support of the Alpha House
DOAP Team

Tom Jackson, founder of The Huron Carole Benefit Concert Series, is a musician, beloved TV personality (North of 60, Star Trek, Law and Order), long-time champion for the marginalized and a volunteer member of the DOAP team. Having experienced life on the streets himself, he discovered music was a way to help others. This year’s concert on December 3rd at the Bella Theatre takes on an urgent purpose as it raises money to continue funding the DOAP team that is impacted by an 8% reduction in provincial funding to the Calgary Homeless Foundation, which is a funder of the program.

“DOAP is an essential mobile and outreach service that is doing unique work within our city.  Team members travel throughout the inner city, Beltline and outlying communities to assist people under the influence of drugs or alcohol who need help navigating shelter, detox, medical services, housing and other programs and resources,” says Kathy Christiansen, Executive Director, Alpha House. “We are working to identify new sources of funding through various levels of government, corporate and community partners. Tom’s generosity in dedicating one of this year’s Huron Carole concert proceeds to DOAP brings our community together to continue to help the evolving and unique needs of vulnerable Calgarians. We are asking Calgarians to buy tickets and get involved through sponsorship and silent auction donations.”

The current shortfall is about $20,000/month to operate the DOAP team that averages 57 transports a day. The larger cuts projected for April 2020 without replacement funding will lead to a reduced presence of the DOAP team across the city and a much more limited response. DOAP will then be focused solely on the Beltline and downtown areas at reduced hours and will not be able to assist those who need help in surrounding communities.

“As a member of the DOAP team, I see firsthand the impact we have on marginalized people every single day. Dedicating one of this year’s Huron Carole performances is a way that I can invite Calgarians to be part of the solution in a meaningful and soulful way,” says Tom Jackson. “Path to a Miracle is our theme this year as we pay attention to the light inside all of us…the path we create and the path we leave behind.”

If you are interested in supporting the DOAP Team through The Huron Carole, you can purchase tickets, become a sponsor, or donate to our silent auction.

Concert Details:

The Huron Carole, Tuesday, December 3, 2019,  Bella Concert Hall, Mount Royal University

Tickets: www.tickets.mru.ca/huroncarole

  • $55 – reserved seating  
  • $100 – reserved seating and Tom Jackson meet and greet

Sponsorships and silent auction donations: donate@alphahousecalgary.com     

About The Huron Carole

The Huron Carole is a seasonal music tradition spanning more than 3 decades touring from coast to coast to coast. Expect an evening of contemporary and signature Christmas music, along with stories creatively crafted by Tom Jackson.  Award winning musicians Tom McKillip, Darryl Havers, John MacArthur Ellis, Kirby Barber and Diane Lines join Tom onstage.  This performance will be one of 16 across Canada raising funds for local food banks and family service agencies.  

Helpful links:

The Huron Carole: https://huroncarole.ca

Tom Jackson DOAP Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_c-dJTPmv-A&t=13s


An Update on our DOAP Team

Shaundra Bruvall | August 21, 2019

An Update to the Community on our DOAP Team:

The recent announcement about the reduction in provincial government funding to the Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF) is raising questions about the future of our DOAP Team and the implications for the people we serve and our broader community.

The background

In September 2019, CHF will see an 8% reduction in their provincial funding. As a result, the CHF has to make some unanticipated changes in funding allocations. Four of their funded programs not directly related to housing will see reductions and our Downtown Outreach Addictions Partnership (DOAP) Team is among these programs.

Since its beginning in 2005, our DOAP team has served a unique need within the city of Calgary. Our team is an essential mobile and outreach service as members travel throughout the inner city, Beltline and outlying communities to assist people under the influence of drugs or alcohol who need help navigating shelter, detox, medical services, housing and other programs and resources.

The DOAP team is an established and integral part of the response to street-level issues, significantly reducing the impact of public intoxication and homelessness on the broader community and public systems. Through DOAP, we can divert people away from inappropriate use of emergency services.

There is no other team doing this work in the city, it will almost certainly get offloaded onto an already stretched public service system [Calgary Police Service and Emergency Medical Service].

In 2018, the DOAP team conducted over 20,700 transports and in 2019 (57 transports a day), with the program expansion, we are seeing higher numbers that reflects the ongoing need for Calgarians across the city, averaging about 89 transports daily.

What does the funding shortfall mean?

For the remainder of the fiscal year 2019 to March 31, 2020, our goal is to sustain the current DOAP program. We are committed to finding funding from various funding sources and the community for the short term to allow all of our current DOAP teams to remain active throughout the fall and winter, when it is essential that people can access our help.

The larger cuts projected for April 2020 without replacement funding will lead to a reduced presence of the DOAP team across the city and a much more limited response. DOAP will then be focused solely on the Beltline and downtown at reduced hours. We feel it is important that we keep our teams on the street, given the evolving and unique needs of vulnerable Calgarians.

Our goal is to find new funding that will enable us to continue to offer our DOAP program at its current level by April 2020.

Alpha House is already in the process of approaching different levels of government to explore ways to address the funding shortfall. We welcome support from corporate Calgary, individuals, and private donors. If you would like to learn more about how you can support the team, please contact me at 403-234-7388.

Thank you to everyone for your ongoing support. We will provide updates on our progress in the months to come.

 

Kathy Christiansen

Executive Director

Calgary Alpha House Society


Alpha House Outreach Programs in High Demand

Shaundra Bruvall | May 14, 2019

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We finally have some warmer weather on our hands and that means a number of different things. With snow no longer in the forecast and no longer on the ground, re-exposure of the land means you might notice needles or other debris on your commute to work, school or on your way home. If you spot a needle on either private or public property, don’t hesitate to give our Needle Response Team (NRT) a call. Operating five days a week from 8 AM – 6PM, the NRT is trained to properly dispose of needles 403. 796.5334.

Another thing you might notice as the weather continues to warm up is an assortment of “rough sleepers” – this is a term used to describe individuals who are camping or sleeping outdoors in public areas. Alpha House’s Encampment Team are a mobile response unit that connects with individuals who are “camping” or “sleeping rough” outside, with the goal of helping individuals secure housing, visit the doctor, get to a shelter, or anything else they might need. If you notice a camp, we encourage you to call the Encampment Team at 403.805.7388.

The warm weather also creates the potential for overheating, dehydration, and sunburn. If you see someone on the street who may be in distress, please get in touch with our DOAP (Downtown Outreach Addictions Partnership) team at 403.998.7388. Should someone be in need of immediate assistance, please call 911.


Calgary Emergency Department Donation

Shaundra Bruvall | October 27, 2017

Our sincerest thank you to the Calgary Emergency Department’s. Jen, Stuart and Chris who are Emergency Department doctors team presented Alpha House with a cheque for $5,000 in support of the DOAP (Downtown Addictions Outreach Partnership) Team. Funds were raised by the Department’s staff at their gala dinner celebrating clinical excellence.

Thank you Calgary Emergency Department’s. We are incredibly grateful for your support and all the good work you do in the community!


Encampment Team

Shaundra Bruvall | April 13, 2016

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With the warm weather already here please keep a look out for possible encampments where people are sleeping outside. Our Encampment Team 403-805-7388 is always looking to connect with rough sleepers to talk to them about housing and provide other resources. The team operates Monday-Friday 8am-4pm.