Gateway Gazette

Journey House 2: An innovative solution for families in housing crisis

Inn From the Cold, Calgary

On December 19, 2017, we opened Journey House 2 in Crescent Heights. The building was purchased with funds raised through the annual Claire’s Campaign and a mortgage from The Calgary Foundation. The building underwent extensive renovations to turn 10 of the 11 two bedroom suites into three bedrooms and its eleventh suite into a Family Resource Centre. This building is our second Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) undertaking, with program funding from Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF). Based on a housing first philosophy, PSH combines rental or housing assistance with individualized, flexible and voluntary support services for families with unique needs. Our Journey House model is focused as much on healing as it is on housing and facilitates a higher degree of resiliency, skill development and independence.

Journey House 1 and 2 fill a critical need in our city for single parent and larger sized vulnerable families experiencing housing crisis. Journey House 1 is for pregnant and/or single mothers with children, while Journey House 2 provides safe, supportive housing for larger families. According to The City of Calgary, only 24% of all rental stock in Calgary is two or more bedrooms, which is a problem for many families we serve at the Inn who require larger suites to accommodate more than two children. Available rentals are expensive and affordable housing is undersized.

“The lack of affordable rental housing in Calgary is particularly challenging for larger 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. This can create long-term trauma that can impact a child’s developmental stages and result in recurring trauma into adulthood.”

To build a community where no child or family is homeless, we need adequate housing and supports. Moving a family quickly and compassionately out of shelter into safe, secure housing minimizes the traumatic impact of homelessness on children, and provides the family a safe, stable environment in which to rebuild and achieve independence. Having housing with supports is crucial to healing and achieving independence. A community of peer-support in the building makes the process that much more powerful. To have a network of families that act as a community makes the integration into the main-stream community after homelessness an easier transition.

Looking Forward

Data from CHF and Calgary’s 2014 Point-in-Time Count of Homelessness references approximately 200 homeless families in Calgary on any given night. “Our goal is to engage all Calgarians in the vision of building a community where no child or family is homeless by ensuring we have adequate and appropriate affordable rental housing,” says Abe Brown. “In 2017 we added 10 units, which means we are now supporting 100 families in their journey from housing crisis to independence. I would love this year to see us supporting 150.”

We are dedicated to our mission of helping homeless children and families achieve independence. For children and families in need of support, our priority is to help  find safe, affordable and appropriate housing. A safe place to call home is where the journey begins.

Read more on supportive housing and homelessness here.

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