Media Advisory: Plan to prevent and end youth homelessness in Calgary gets a refresh

Homeless youth in Calgary receive greater support and success through collective impact and community collaboration

May 05, 2017

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - May 5, 2017) - Members of Calgary's Youth Homeless-Serving sector and community are gathering today to launch the 2017 Refresh of the Calgary Plan to Prevent and End Youth Homelessness. This new plan focuses on a housing-first approach, and identifies four main priorities with prevention as the most critical. Today, Government, sector leaders, Indigenous representatives and front-line workers will collaborate to prioritize and examine new objectives and improved approaches to supporting and prioritizing our city's most vulnerable youth.

"Everyone, regardless of their age, deserves a safe, stable place to call home", says Hon. Irfan Sabir, Minister of Community & Social services and MLA for Calgary-McCall, "I commend our community partners for their initiative and collaboration on the Calgary Plan to Prevent and End Youth Homelessness - 2017 Refresh. Together, we are making life better for Albertans of all ages."

In 2011, Calgary became the first jurisdiction in Canada to launch a strategic plan to end youth homelessness. Since that time we've had much success, and great strides have been made to benefit at-risk youth in our city - but we can do more.

The 2017 Refresh utilized a collective impact approach and involved youth with lived experience. It was shaped through the combined effort of the youth homeless-serving community, the Youth Sector, The Government of Alberta, Calgary Homeless Foundation as system planner, and community leaders United Way, Calgary Foundation, and Family and Community Support Services. This collective process was not simply about updating the 2011 Calgary Plan to End Youth Homelessness, but was also about re-invigorating and meaningfully engaging new partners in our shared vision of building more futures, saving more lives and creating a city where all youth have a safe, supportive and nurturing home.

"Preventing and ending youth homelessness will deeply impact every one of us and improve Calgary for the next generations to come", says Dr. Alina Turner, who was instrumental in the creation of the refreshed plan, "This Update is a much needed call to action for our community to tackle this issue and engage in preventative measures to ensure that every young person always has a place to call home."

Every year, more than 1,500 youth use emergency shelters in our city, and on any given night, there are approximately 286 youth experiencing homelessness in Calgary. 4 out of 10 adults experiencing homelessness reported their first homelessness episode to have occurred as a youth, and in Calgary, 28% reported having been homeless before the age of 18.

"The 2017 Youth Plan is three things:" says David French, Director of Policy and Planning for A Way Home, "Validation of important work already occurring in Calgary; direction forward for the improvements that need to occur, and permission for organizations and government to innovate. The results being that as a community, we will prevent young people from becoming homeless and ensure those already experiencing homelessness can end that experience as soon as possible."

The plan builds on evidence and experience and also aims to reduce the number of youth experiencing homelessness in Calgary, and calls for the application of a youth-centered lens with distinct and measureable actions towards responding to the youth population - including a focus on Indigenous and LGBTQ2S youth. The aim is to prevent youth from becoming homeless by ensuring they, and their families, have access to the services and supports when they need them most.

"Youth homelessness can be prevented and ended through collective action," says Jeff Dyer, CEO, Boys and Girls Club of Calgary, "This refreshed plan and our shared commitment to putting its recommendations into action are critical to advancing the well-being of youth at-risk of, and/or experiencing, homelessness."

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About I Heart Home

The I Heart Home initiative is a catalyst and enabler for Calgary's Homeless-Serving System of Care which helps to inspire and coordinate our homeless-serving agencies and optimize client success. Through mobilization of collective impact, I Heart Home fosters and empowers homeless-serving agencies, the private sector, government partners, local communities, the faith community, other foundations and all Calgarians in our shared vision of ending homelessness in our city. For more information, visit ihearthomeyyc.com.