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Hope, sanctuary, healing and a home for homeless families

By 20 December 2017Community

Inn from the Cold’s new Journey House 2 will provide 10 families a place to call home

Ten families will be getting keys to a place to call their home with the opening of Journey House 2, a 10 unit, three-bedroom apartment building recently purchased and renovated by Calgary’s Family Emergency Shelter and housing provider, Inn from the Cold.

Affordable rental housing in Calgary continues to be a pressing need, in particular, for families of two or more children. Only 24% of all rental stock in Calgary is two or more bedrooms, making it hard for larger sized families to find appropriate and affordable housing.

Located in the inner city neighbourhood of Crescent Heights, Journey House 2 was purchased by The Inn in June of this year for $1.875 million. The funds were raised through the organization’s annual Claire’s Campaign along with a mortgage provided by The Calgary Foundation.

There truly is no place like home,” says Eva Friesen, President & CEO, Calgary Foundation. “Everyone deserves safe and affordable housing. Calgary Foundation is honoured to support Journey House – a residence that will have a transformational impact on families, especially children at a critical stage in their development.”

Ten of the eleven two-bedroom suites were renovated into three-bedroom units with the eleventh unit being repurposed as a Family Resource Centre. It will serve as a community hub to encourage and support families in their transition from homelessness to being at home in the community. The renovations were made possible through a $500K donation from an anonymous donor and a $125K donation from the Calgary Real Estate Board (CREB®) Charitable Foundation.

“It is wonderful to be part of such a fantastic initiative with our friends from Inn from the Cold,” says CREB® Charitable Foundation president Rob Campbell. “With the Inn being the recipient of our top Investing in HOPE grant this year, we were thrilled to hear the donation will go towards the development of the house’s first floor and to help put a safe, warm roof over many Calgary families.”

Centron, which has also been a significant contributor, acted as general contractor with sub-contractors supporting the renovations with a portion of their fees offered through gifts in kind of services with members of Centron Cares furnishing each suite with household items such as small kitchen appliances, dishes, glassware, towels and other essentials.

Journey House 2 represents Calgary community coming together to take action collectively to address Calgary’s lack of affordable rental housing that is suitable for larger families.

“The lack of affordable rental housing in Calgary is particularly challenging for large families.” says Abe Brown, Executive Director, Inn from the Cold. “Many of the families we serve have more than two children and without access to appropriate housing, they can become trapped in homelessness, adding long-term trauma that can impact a child’s developmental stages and result in recurring trauma into adulthood.”

Families eligible to take up residence in Journey House 2 will be identified through the Coordinated Access and Assessment process. This system-wide program has been designed to meet the needs of the most vulnerable by allowing for more effective and accurate program placements. The first tenants will move into their new home in January. Funding for programming including case management, housing supports, job readiness training and early childhood development is funded through Calgary Homeless Foundation, the System Planner for Calgary’s homeless-serving system of care.

“Journey House 2 represents more than just a home for families experiencing homelessness. It represents hope and provides a stable place of belonging from which to build a better future. As more supportive housing buildings open, to those who need it most, we continue to demonstrate that homelessness can end when we choose to work together” says Diana Krecsy. President and CEO of Calgary Homeless Foundation.

Program delivery and supports at Journey House 2 are structured to promote independence and sustainability for families within community. Incorporating best practices of a housing first model and incorporating culturally sensitive programming to address the needs of Indigenous and immigrant families, Journey House 2 represents an important step forward in the Inn’s vision of building a community where no child or family is homeless.

“We know housing first works,” says Brown. “Our focus is to mitigate against the immediate impacts of homelessness by ensuring families have access to emergency shelter along with supports targeted to address emotional, physical and cultural needs to help them over a housing crisis. As soon as their immediate needs are addressed, we begin working with the families to ensure their experience of homelessness is short-term and non-recurring. This requires making sure they have access to the right resources and housing with supports so they can achieve independence.”

Journey House 2 is the second housing project Inn from the Cold has undertaken. In 2015 it began providing housing with supports to approximately 40 families through rental housing acquired with community minded landlords. In addition, The Inn operates Journey House 1, an eight-unit apartment building comprised of six-one bedroom suites and two-two bedroom suites for women and children exiting homelessness. Journey House 1 is owned by HomeSpace Society, a housing provider dedicated to growing capacity in the affordable housing sector with program funding provided by the Calgary Homeless Foundation, which is also the program funder for Journey House 2. Through the implementation of best practices in housing first, and integrated case management Inn from the Cold continues to achieve housing results higher than sector averages.

“Our deep knowledge of the impact of housing insecurity and homelessness on vulnerable children and families drives the design of Journey House 2,” says Brown. “We are excited to be building towards a future where families in need of rental housing with more than two bedrooms will be able to call Journey House 2 home.”

Unlike adult single homelessness which has seen a 26% drop per capita since Calgary’s Plan to End Homelessness was launched in 2008, family homelessness has not decreased significantly, with the 2014 Point-in-Time Count of Homelessness finding 209 families experiencing homelessness in Calgary. Inn from the Cold has been at or over capacity in its 27 bed family emergency shelter 65% of the time this year, with its external overflow shelter at Knox United Church being activated over 20 times since April. In addition, at a time when pressure for services and support continues to grow, the Inn has experienced an over 20% decrease in donations this year over last.

Journey House 2 is a new home for Calgary families to stabilize and grow. When we give families the stability of safe housing they can come together and overcome the adversity that put them into homelessness. Inn from the Cold is proud to have been able to provide 10 more homes for families in Calgary. Learn more about our Journey House program here.

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