Shell Canada Limited Supports Ending Homelessness in Calgary

March 31, 2009

Calgary, Alberta – Shell Canada Limited announces a donation of $650,000 to the Calgary Homeless Foundation allowing further work toward ending homelessness in Calgary.

 

Calgary has one of Canada's most critical homelessness problems, with more than 4,000 people homeless every night. As many as 15,000 Calgarians experience homelessness in a year and more than 560 of those will be sleeping outside, twice as many as the City of London, England. Since Calgary is home to more than half of Shell Canada’s employees the company thought it imperative to contribute.

 

Shell Canada has invested the money to help cover the Foundation's operating expenses so they can focus on the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness. The guiding philosophy of the plan is a proven concept called “Housing First,” which puts the highest priority on moving homeless people into permanent housing with the support necessary to sustain that housing.

 

“Today more than ever, we see not-for-profit organizations struggle to find the day-to-day operating funds that are so important in helping to deliver their support to our community,” said Brian Straub, President and Canada Country Chair, Shell Canada. “What’s important is to support the effort – and we believe the Calgary Homeless Foundation’s broad range of agencies is an effective and efficient approach to reduce homelessness and the costs related to homelessness.”

 

“Shell Canada’s support is a key component of the Foundation’s ability to implement Calgary’s 10 Year Plan,” says Tim Richter, President and CEO of the Calgary Homeless Foundation. “Their contribution allows us to operate our own ‘home’ so we can focus on helping others find housing, providing supportive housing, and preventing our vulnerable neighbours from becoming homeless.”

 

About the Calgary Homeless Foundation:

The Calgary Homeless Foundation leads the implementation of Calgary’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness. Issued in January 2008, Calgary’s 10 Year Plan was created by the Calgary Committee to End Homelessness, a community-based, multi-stakeholder leadership group, who issued the Plan and selected the Foundation to implement the Plan. The Foundation is moving forward on Calgary’s 10 Year Plan in partnership with the many homeless serving agencies, the private sector, our government partners, the faith community, other foundations and all Calgarians to end homelessness in Calgary once and for all.

 

About Shell Canada:

Shell Canada, operating in Canada since 1911, is one of the largest integrated petroleum companies in the country. A leading manufacturer, distributor and marketer of refined petroleum products, Shell Canada produces natural gas, natural gas liquids and bitumen and is Canada’s largest producer of sulphur.

 

Shell Canada is an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell plc. Royal Dutch Shell plc is incorporated in England and Wales, has its headquarters in The Hague and is listed on the London, Amsterdam and New York stock exchanges. With around 102,000 employees in more than 100 countries and territories, Shell helps to meet the world’s growing demand for energy in economically, environmentally and socially responsible ways. For further information, visit www.shell.com.

 

Contact:

Sheridan McVean

VP Communications and Fund Development

Calgary Homeless Foundation

403.718.8539

sheridan@calgaryhomeless.com

 

Patty Richards

Manager, Social Investment

Shell Canada Limited

403.691.2588

patty.richards@shell.com

 

This news release and others from the CHF are available at: www.calgaryhomeless.com.

Backgrounder attached.


Backgrounder: about Calgary’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness

Since counting began in 1992, homelessness in Calgary has gone up more than 1,000 per cent. The count was about 400 in 1992; it was up to more than 4,000 in May 2008.

 

Calgary has an estimated street homeless population and people sleeping outside that is twice that of London, England. London is a city of eight million people with 250 people counted as sleeping outside of shelters.

 

As of May 2008, Calgary had 1,815 emergency shelter beds. By following goals outlined in the 10 Year Plan, by 2010 Calgary may require less than 400 beds, assuming no increase in the number of people homeless. Those facilities can then become longer-term housing, treatment facilities or medical centers.

 

The government pays a temporary shelter approximately $40 a day to give someone a mat on the floor and a meal, which is $1,200 a month. Why not just pay the rent? You can get someone into housing for $600 to $800 a month and provide supports to help them overcome what brought them into homelessness – actually saving money.

 

Why permanent housing?

The social costs of homelessness are many and well understood. People with mental illness or addictions often get worse when they do not have a home and are unable to receive treatment, and they often end up in ambulances and emergency wards. Seeing so many people experiencing homelessness on our streets often disturbs citizens and visitors to Calgary. Many don’t feel safe downtown at night, particularly in and near the East Village and along the Bow River pathways.

 

Chronic homelessness is particularly costly: one University of California study followed 15 chronically homeless individuals for 18 months and found each person consumed $200,000 in public services. This far exceeds the cost of providing affordable housing with the attendant support services needed to help sustain it.

 

Will it work?  

The principles and strategies at the heart of Calgary’s 10 Year Plan have been put to the test in other communities, with encouraging results:

 

  • In the short space of 18 months after the implementation of Portland, Oregon’s 10-year plan, the city reduced its chronic homeless population by 70 per cent.
  • Denver, Colorado has seen an 11 per cent reduction in overall homelessness and a 36 per cent reduction in chronic homelessness since the city implemented its plan in 2005.
  • Hennepin County, Minnesota has seen a dramatic decline in family homelessness since it implemented its 10-year plan. From 2002 to 2004, the community saw family homelessness decline by 43 per cent, from 1,819 to 1,046.