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February 01, 2019

Continuing resolve

RESOLVE Campaign opens The Maple, as fight to end homelessness continues

Pepper Rodriguez

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The RESOLVE Campaign in Calgary may have officially ended in March last year, but the home builder-initiated effort to end homelessness in the city continues to bear fruit.

RESOLVE, along with the Calgary Homeless Foundation (CHF), and HomeSpace Society, opened last December their newest building, The Maple. Built by Homes by Avi as part of its commitment to the RESOLVE Campaign, The Maple offers 25-units of permanent supportive housing for women experiencing
chronic homelessness.

The Maple, located in the northeast community of Renfrew, marks the sixth new permanent supportive housing building to be completed for CHF and its housing collaborator, HomeSpace, and the eighth new building in total to be constructed through the RESOLVE Campaign.

“Thanks to the Government of Alberta and the generous contribution of Homes by Avi and other philanthropic donors to the RESOLVE Campaign, 25 women will soon have access to permanent supportive housing where they can begin to rebuild their lives,” says Alan Norris, Chairman and CEO, Brookfield Residential Properties and Chair of the RESOLVE Campaign.

The building was made possible with joint funding through the Government of Canada (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation) and the Government of Alberta, Homes by Avi’s commitment of up to $1.4 million through the RESOLVE Campaign and a contribution through the City of Calgary’s Housing Incentive Program.

The building’s name, The Maple, was chosen by Homes by Avi to symbolize strength and endurance, and is one of a series of purpose-built apartments, constructed by a group of 11 Calgary home builders who have collectively donated $15.4 million and each committed to constructing a building for CHF through the RESOLVE Campaign.

“Homes by Avi got involved in the RESOLVE Campaign from the beginning, based on a belief that there was no better way to give back to our community than provide the one thing that we do best: housing,” says Homes by Avi CEO, Charron Ungar. “Now that our contribution, through The Maple project, is coming to a close we stand before the success of the program as thankful contributors to a vision of participation in building our great city.”

RESOLVE was a first-of-its-kind collaboration of nine Partner agencies, working together with a common goal — to create affordable rental housing with support services for up to 3,000 vulnerable and homeless Calgarians. The nine respected and established agencies partnered with government, business and community leaders, all resolving to make Calgary a better home – for everyone. At the conclusion of the Campaign’s active fundraising period on March 31, 2018, enough capital was raised to provide 1,850 homeless and vulnerable Calgarians with a key to an affordable rental home with the supports they need to thrive.

While the Campaign itself has sunset, the partners will continue to open doors to additional urgently needed affordable homes in the city. The tangible difference the campaign has made will be seen for years to come, as more buildings are constructed and Calgarians move from a place of homelessness and instability to the safety and security of a home.

In fact, Calbridge Homes is scheduled to begin construction of their building in Forest Lawn on January 24. JAYMAN BUILT is completing its development in Bowness this year, too.

Despite its success, the campaign to end homelessness in Calgary faces considerable challenges. Not the least of which is the continued soft economy, which not only has slowed down donations but increases Calgarians’ vulnerability to losing their homes.

Another constant struggle that the campaign faces is the Not-In-My-Backyard attitude — or NIMBYism — for short — that can sometimes make it difficult to arrange to get locations for these housing projects.

“NIMBYism is a challenge on most developments and we address it through education on the need to provide safe and affordable housing for all, especially the City’s most vulnerable people. Housing is a human right,” says Matt Vermunt of HomeSpace.

HomeSpace is one of the lead agencies in the front lines in negotiations with the City and local communities for  building these new housing developments.

“It takes a lot of community engagement work from HomeSpace and our agency partners to address concerns and proactively work with the communities in which we operate. It’s important for the public to undertand that people experiencing homelessness are already in our communities, except many of them are not receiving supports. We see much better outcomes for neighbours and for vulnerable people when we provide housing with 24/7 social supports. We look to be good neighbours if our neighbours have concerns, they have a compassionate and engaged landlord and agency who work collaboratively to address issues,” he adds.

“Our residents are equally valuable members of the community, and housing increases their opportunity to be active participants. We’ve seen our residents volunteer at events on Neighbour Day, participate in community garden projects, help with community cleanups, and contact emergency services when citizens required help. These are the positive stories that help us combat NIMBY attitudes. Our residents are just as much members of their communities as anyone else and they have the same rights; there is no “us and them”, there’s just us.”

According to HomeSpace, providing affordable housing with supports is not only the right thing to do, it makes economic sense. “When we tracked 72 of our most complex residents we saw a 70 per cent decrease in: days hospitalized, EMS utilization, police interactions, emergency room visits and days in jail. This equates to a savings of $2.5 million in one year to the tax payer,” Vermunt says.  

The important work of finding homes for the homeless continues, says Diana Krecsy, President and CEO of Calgary Homeless Foundation, and The Maple is an important contribution.

“This collaboration between government, the Calgary Homeless Foundation, HomeSpace Society, Homes by Avi, the RESOLVE Campaign, and YW Calgary is a demonstration that homelessness can end when we intentionally choose to work together,” she says. “The Maple will provide 25 women experiencing
homelessness with a place to call home and a place of belonging from which to build a better future.”

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