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In the past year, Inn from the Cold has seen an overwhelming increase in families reaching out for support, shedding light on the growing issue of rising living costs in Calgary. During the 2022/23 period, 1,357 families turned to us for support, marking an 83% increase from the previous year.

Our aim at The Inn is to ensure families spend an average of 30 days in the shelter as we work swiftly to help them secure housing. However, the reality in 2022/23 paints a different picture, with the average stay at The Inn’s emergency shelter increasing to 56 days, up from 41 days in 2021/22. This notable change underscores the heightened demand for support at The Inn and emphasizes the urgent need to address our community’s rising cost of living.

Calgary’s Market Basket Measure (MBM) looks at the cost of basic necessities like food, shelter, and transportation, which is the highest among major Canadian cities. This means our city’s families face a higher cost of living compared to any other major city in Canada. Falling below the MBM indicates a family is living in income poverty or under the poverty line.

Recent reports shed light on additional challenges families are currently facing. Canada’s Food Price Report, created by the Agri-Food Analytics Lab involving Dalhousie University, the University of Guelph, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Saskatchewan, indicates that an average Canadian family of four might face a $700 increase in their 2024 grocery bill. Despite some food essentials experiencing a price drop, the projected grocery spending for a typical family is expected to reach $16,297.20, marking a 2.5 to 4.5 percent increase from the 2023 average.

Moreover, in 2023, Alberta witnessed the most rapid surge in rental prices in the last 40 years, with the average cost of a two-bedroom unit in Calgary hitting $2,108 per month in December. The shortage of larger housing units compounds families’ difficulty in finding affordable homes that suit their size and budget. Rising rents have also been exacerbated by record-low vacancy rates, currently at 2.7% and expected to decrease further. 

So, what can you do to support this growing issue?  

Inn from the Cold relies on community donations for 60% of our budget. We recognize that life has become more expensive for everyone, which often means the ability to donate decreases. But every single dollar makes a difference and will help ensure we can be there for families in their greatest time of need. If you’re able, consider donating to The Inn’s programs and supports so that we can continue helping families in need.

Another way you can support is by voicing your support for affordable housing, whether supporting development in your community or engaging your elected officials and letting them know that this is a concern they need to address. We require that collective voice to inspire action. 

As housing affordability is expected to worsen through 2024, your continued support is needed more than ever. Your support can significantly impact the lives of families facing the brunt of the rising cost of living. Together, we can create a more resilient and supportive community for all.