Shaundra Bruvall | March 17, 2022
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.”
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.”
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 HousingOutreach@alphahousecalgary.com