Creating lasting Impact

Darkness doesn’t last forever, nothing’s forever… just keep pushing, there’s always another day, there’s always tomorrow. The sun will always come up.

FedumaFormer Inn from the Cold Client

The Impact Of Generosity

Thanks to the generous support of our community, we are able to provide a range of programs and supports to children and families at no cost to the family.

Having a place to call home is essential for families to be able to prosper and thrive. When a family contacts us for help, our priority is to help keep them in their existing home. If theyre already without a home, then we work hard to find them suitable housing as quickly as possible. Families stay in our emergency shelter only as long as its necessary to find them a new home.

What is the issue we are trying to solve?

Family homelessness is a critical and complex problem, where families with children are the fastest-growing population experiencing homelessness in Canada. The issue is particularly challenging because it impacts the well-being and development of children, who may face emotional, physical, and educational challenges due to their unstable housing situation. In Calgary, family homelessness is often linked to poverty and a lack of affordable housing, with an average of 200 families experiencing homelessness on any night. The city has seen a rapid increase in the cost of living, including rising rental rates, while wages have not kept pace with these increases. Many families live paycheck to paycheck, and any unexpected expenses or changes in circumstances, such as job loss, illness, or domestic violence, can lead to housing instability and homelessness.

Families and children experiencing homelessness face various challenges, including poor physical and mental health, limited education and employment opportunities, and increased risk of involvement with the child welfare system.

With a lack of research on family homelessness in Canada, more work must be done to address and understand the root causes of family homelessness and provide sustainable solutions for families in need.

What are we doing to solve this problem?

A stable and secure home is crucial for families to succeed and thrive. We follow a housing-first philosophy where our top priority is to assist families in retaining their current homes whenever possible. If a family needs housing, our dedicated team works diligently to find them a suitable home as soon as possible. Our emergency shelter is a temporary solution, accommodating families in need until a more permanent solution is found.

We provide a comprehensive array of programs along the housing continuum to meet families at their current housing stage and offer tailored support and case management to address their individual needs and set them up for long-term success. Our team collaborates with partner agencies to provide coordinated and holistic support to families’ mental, physical and social well-being.

We strive to better understand the needs of families who seek our help by collecting meaningful data, sharing insights with our funding partners, and advocating for improved services and policy solutions. Through advocacy and communication efforts, we aim to raise awareness about the issue of homelessness and reduce stigma, ultimately working towards creating a brighter future for families in need.

Our Approach

Empowering families to overcome obstacles is challenging. At Inn from the Cold, we understand that each family is unique and faces different circumstances and that this diversity adds to the complexity of their needs. With this in mind, we work closely with each family to create a personalized plan that addresses their needs and helps them build the skills necessary for long-term stability, well-being, and resilience. We also strive to apply a culturally diverse lens and Indigenous worldview to our support, recognizing the diversity of the families we serve.

Our programs are focused on promoting the well-being of children, youth, and families, aiming to break the cycle of homelessness. Family poverty, conflict, breakdown, and abuse can cause trauma and contribute to child and youth homelessness, and childhood homelessness has been linked to chronic and multi-generational homelessness.

At Inn from the Cold, we believe in investing in families and providing them with the programs and support necessary to lift them out of poverty and housing instability, ultimately breaking the cycle of family homelessness. By prioritizing the mental, social, and physical well-being of families and their children, we are confident that we can positively impact their lives.

Click on the above images to expand.

Our Impact

Inn from the Cold has positively impacted the lives of over 6,100 families facing a housing crisis since 2008. We measure success by the number of families and children who have become stronger, more resilient, and are on their way to achieving housing independence. Our programs are designed to address housing needs comprehensively while promoting mental, physical and social well-being, improving self-esteem and family stability, and empowering families to build resiliency.

Through Inn from the Cold’s four key services and supports, positive outcomes for families are created in five domains:

  • Safety & Stability: Inn from the Cold seeks to increase the safety and stability within families by providing direct safety- and stability-enhancing services, programming, and supports (e.g. shelter services, affordable housing options, support for maintaining housing in the community).
  • Health & Wellbeing: Inn from the Cold uses a trauma-informed approach and provides direct wellness supports to families.  By enabling families to transition away from instability and experiences of homelessness towards long-term housing, positive changes in wellbeing for all family members are supported (mental, emotional, physical, spiritual).
  • Connection & Culture: Inn from the Cold enables families to build community and connections that can help them thrive in the long-term.  This includes connection to culture, which can increase resilience and decrease the potential negative impact of life’s uncertainties.
  • Empowerment & Independence: Inn from the Cold ultimately supports families in building on their strengths to move forward independently with self-empowerment and resilience. This includes supporting families in building key skills that can enable stability, safety, and resilience in the longer-term (e.g. career planning, connection to education, tenancy skills, etc.)
  • Child, Youth & Family Resilience: The supports provided by the Inn intentionally enhance family resilience and create positive impacts and growth for children and youth, enabling opportunities to engage in education and achieve their own developmental potential. Supports includes direct services, programs, and referrals aimed at building different components of resiliency.

Our Outcomes

To measure our outcomes, we survey families on their experiences accessing our programs two weeks into receiving shelter support and when they exit our shelter program. Our survey results tell us:

  • 95% of families felt safe while accessing support from The Inn.
  • 98% of families are satisfied with the support received by The Inn.
  • 96% of families felt The Inn provided appropriate support for their children’s needs.
  • 89% of families were satisfied with the assistance they received to find safe, appropriate and affordable housing.
  • 94% of families said The Inn met their health and wellness needs.
  • 92% of families agreed that The Inn provided appropriate health and wellness resources and supports
  • 86% of families said their stress levels decreased after accessing support from The Inn.

* The above statistics are an average of the responses from our family surveys between 2020 – 2022. The total number of responses for that time period is N=228.

Long-term Impact

In 2021, The Inn introduced the Shelter Follow-up Survey to better understand the long-term impact of our shelter programs. We reach out to families at one, four, eight, 12, 18, and 24 months after they have left our shelter programs. At the end of 2022, we have been able to connect with 38 different families, completing a total of 54 surveys. From the families we connected with we heard that:

  • 91% of families report feeling hopeful
  • 98% of families report feeling safe

While the majority of families we connected with for follow-up indicated they have maintained their housing, we recognize this data point may be biased due to the limited sample.

We look forward to expanding our shelter follow-up survey to better understand family homelessness and the long-term impacts of our programs and sharing more results with you in the future.

Social Return on Investment

Did you know that for every dollar invested, Inn from the Cold creates nearly seven dollars in social and economic value?

Recognizing the social value created by the Inn’s work, in 2018 a Social Return on Investment (SROI) analysis was conducted.  This analysis revealed that the Inn created important social and economic value for multiple stakeholders, including families, governments, communities, and landlords. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Inn from the Cold pivoted its services and supports to respond to the changing support context for families.  To understand the value of the changes to the Inn’s work since 2018, in 2023 the SROI analysis was updated by Constellation Consulting Group to capture the value of new programming and new approaches to programming that have been implemented.

The most recent SROI analysis of Inn from the Cold revealed an SROI ratio of 1 : 6.79.  This indicates that, for every dollar invested, Inn from the Cold creates nearly seven dollars in social and economic value.

As governments seek more cost-efficient ways to support citizens and communities in thriving, the study suggests that investment in the wellbeing of homeless families generates important cost savings and value to multiple stakeholders. Ongoing investment in this type of programming is likely to advance the achievement of positive outcomes and further generate value in our community.

Learn more here. 

A Year In Review: 2023

January - December 2023


Total Families Served


Families Housed


Total Family Members


Family Members Housed


Total Children Served


Total Children Housed

It’s been a tough few months for my family where it has felt that everything that could have gone wrong has. I am not sure where we would be without Inn from the Cold today and I am so thankful to have had you guys in my corner. Thank you for helping us get back on our feet and helping us find a new home. I am confident that things will only go up from here and that’s all because of you

Former Inn from the Cold Client

What Is Family Homelessness?

Statistics & Facts

Did you know that on any given day approximately 200 families are experiencing homelessness in Calgary?
*Source: Calgary Homelessness Foundation Point-in-Time Count

When you picture homelessness, you are often drawn to images of people on the streets, but for family homelessness it is seldom to see families sleeping outside. For families experiencing homelessness it can mean they are sleeping in shelters or in temporary accommodation like motels, couch surfing at a friends house, staying with family or even sleeping in a car or recreational vehicle. It can also mean having a home, but being at risk of losing it.

The reality is families can have a roof over their head and still be experiencing homelessness.

Families may fluctuate between these living conditions and the changes and impacts may be very dramatic. Thats because homelessness is not a static state; its a fluid experience. For every family their experience with homelessness is unique. But whats consistent is that every family who is experiencing homelessness is vulnerable and lacks the income and/or supports to stay housed.

Homelessness In Calgary

The need for providing support to families in crisis is greater in Calgary than elsewhere in the province for the following reasons:

  • Calgary has more than 50 per cent of Alberta’s visible homeless population.
  • The Calgary region has been experiencing ongoing economic challenges due to fluctuating energy sector recessions, lack of economic diversification and impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Based on historical recessions in Canada, Calgary can expect a lag effect on the rate of homelessness, leading to a protracted demand for housing and social services support.
  • Rates of unemployment and eviction continue to be higher than the national average.
  • The city also has a significant shortage of available affordable housing units, and for families with more than two children, the shortage is especially acute.

Affordable Housing in Calgary

Affordable housing is the foundation for effective ending family homelessness.

  • At least 15,000 affordable housing units are needed in Calgary to meet existing needs.
  • As population growth is far outpacing the creation of affordable housing units in Calgary, population forecasts suggest that over 22,000 new non-market units could be required to house 6% of all Calgary households in 2025.
    • Of the affordable housing units available approximately 20% are appropriately sized for families, making the need for affordable family housing especially acute.
  • During the last decade, the average increase in new affordable housing units is about 308 units per year. But to keep up with demand, Calgary needs at least 2,500 new units annually. ⁠
  • Rents in Calgary increased 22.6% between 2021 and 2022. As of January 2023, the average price for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,972. The income needed to afford an average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Calgary is $55,000.
  • According to The City of Calgary’s definition, a household needs affordable housing when it earns less than $60,000/year and pays more than 30% of gross income on shelter costs.
    • 88,000 Calgary households earning less than $60,000 annually currently need affordable housing.
    • When families overspend on housing, they postpone emergency savings and are forced to cut back on food, education, medical bills, and transportation. For low-income Calgarians, unaffordable housing restricts opportunities and creates difficult trade-offs. ⁠
  • Calgary Housing Company has a 4,000-household waitlist for social and affordable housing and processes 245 new eligible applications per month on average.

Source: City of Calgary, Affordable Housing. Learn more here. 

Want to Know More?

What leads to family homelessness?

Many people believe homelessness is the result of personal failure. But this couldnt be further from the truth. There is no single cause for experiencing homelessness and the causes of family homelessness are varied and complex. These experiences often arise from systemic issues like poverty, discrimination and economic changes, combined with personal circumstances. The circumstances that can contribute to family homelessness can include unexpected major expenses, sudden injury, serious illness, family violence or breakdown, relationship difficulties, untreated trauma, underemployment, financial losses, and addictions.

Indigenous and visible minority families experience significant systematic barriers, including racial and cultural discrimination that heighten their risk of experiencing homelessness. In light of this, Inn from the Cold strives to apply a culturally diverse lens and Indigenous worldview to the supports we provide.

What is required to end family homelessness?

Homelessness affects some families more than others, such as single mothers and families that are Indigenous, racialized or newcomers. We also know that children who experience homelessness face barriers to access developmental, social and academic opportunities, and experience poorer outcomes as adults. Adults who experience homelessness were often homeless as children. Providing supports to vulnerable families is both intervention (the immediate crisis) and prevention in action (supporting children to a better future).

At a systems level, ending family homelessness requires a continuum of services including:

  • Coordinated assessment and intake for families facing a crisis;
  • Targeted prevention and diversion to keep families from becoming homeless;
  • Short and temporary stay in an emergency shelter;
  • Rapid re-housing programs for families that are ready for independence;
  • Transitional and supportive housing programs for families requiring more intensive supports; and
  • Increased availability of affordable housing in the community, that is appropriately sized for families.

Also, families experiencing homelessness can benefit from access to individualized supports, such as housing-first programs, trauma-informed practices, just-in-time intervention, specialized safety protocols for families experiencing violence and home-based early childhood and parenting supports.

How does Diversion help end the cycle of Homelessness?

We know the best way to end the cycle of homelessness is to divert as many families as possible from experiencing it. Affordable housing is the foundation for effectively and efficiently preventing children from experiencing the trauma of homelessness. Once families have a home, service providers like Inn from the Cold can provide holistic and wrap-around supports, saving the public systems resources and better setting up families for long-term success.

Who does Inn from the Cold help?

At Inn from the Cold, we are all about families! Since 2008, we have transformed the lives of over 6,100 families who had nowhere else to turn.

In any given year we serve approximately 2,000 – 2,500 family members on their journey to find housing independence.

A snapshot of the families we serve in a year typically includes:

  • 60% of families that are single-parent households
  • 55% of families that are Indigenous
  • 15% of families that are newcomers to Canada
  • 60% of the people we serve are children (most under the age of 12 years old)
  • Families that on average have about 2 children

Research on Family Homelessness

There is limited research available in Canada around the understanding of family homelessness. It is important to understand the root causes of family homelessness and the impact it has on individuals and communities. There needs to be more research and data collection on the issue of family homelessness in Canada, where the results can be used to inform policy and practice.

We are committed to improving the understanding of family homelessness by sharing our data and insights and regularly collaborating with educational institutions, researchers and other organizations.

Check out some of these reports and publications to learn more about the issue.

Check out our Reports & Publications