Claire’s Campaign: Make a difference in the life of a child experiencing homelessness
With Inn from the Cold’s annual fundraiser, Claire’s Campaign, in full swing, Calgary businessman, and philanthropist, Gary Nissen, urges every Calgarian to contribute to ending child and family homelessness. “There is no better time than now to support ending child and family homelessness,” he says.
Unlike adult, single homelessness, child and family homelessness has not decreased since the launch of Calgary’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness in 2008. First Quarter 2018 capacity numbers at Inn from the Cold tell a story of more and more families seeking shelter. “Our bed stays are up 41% over first quarter last year,” says Abe Brown, Executive Director at Inn from the Cold. “That’s 3,000 more bed stays in just the first quarter of this year compared to last with an increase of 37% in the number of families seeking emergency shelter.” The Inn has been at or over our shelter capacity 80% of the time this year, compared to 21% for the same period last year. “With no additional government funding available, we need the support of community partners to ensure children and their families in housing crisis have access to safe shelter every night.”
Ending adult homelessness begins with helping children cope with the trauma and stressors of homelessness so that it does not become a recurring theme in their adult lives. “The earlier we invest in children, the greater the benefits to the children, families, society and the future for everyone,” says Brown. “Claire’s Campaign is a way for every Calgarian to make a difference today and to help children build better futures.”
Along with an increase in the number of children and families seeking emergency shelter, the length of stay has increased from 35 days to an average of 40 days.
“Length of stay is a key indicator of our ability to find appropriate, safe and affordable housing for families,” says Amanda St. Laurent, Director, Programs, at the Inn. “While our goal is always to assist families in moving out of shelter into housing as quickly as possible, we continue to be hampered by lack of access to appropriate sized housing to meet the needs of larger families, in particular, families with more than 2 or 3 children.”
In December, Inn from the Cold opened Journey House 2, a 10 unit, 3 bedroom apartment building for families with 2 or more children. Situated in an inner-city community, Journey House 2 provides permanent supportive housing to assist a family in addressing their unique needs in achieving independence. “Journey House 2 is full,” says St. Laurent. “Families entering shelter, the majority of whom have more than 2 children, are feeling trapped by our city’s lack of affordable housing.”
Every dollar raised throughout the month-long Claire’s Campaign will be directed to the Inn’s Family Support Program which includes early childhood development, youth and parent programs, as well as health and wellness and other essential supports to assist families in achieving independence.
“We can’t do the work we do without our community supporters,” says Brown. “Now, more than ever, we need everyone’s help to ensure children and their families have access to vital supports that will make the difference between homelessness being a one-time event or a life-time recurring theme.”
Throughout the month of May, all donations to Claire’s Campaign will be matched up to $400K through the generosity of Gary Nissen, Karen Zutter and the Hutchinson Family. The Campaign goal for 2018 is $800,000. “It’s $100,000 more than last year,” says Brown. “Since Gary Nissen launched the first Claire’s Campaign in 2013, over $4 million has been raised. We’d love to exceed $5 million this year and we believe, with the help of Calgarians, we can.”