Outreach addiction workers and Calgary Transit peace officers pair up to aid vulnerable commuters
by Riggs Zyrille Vergara, Publishing Editor
Calgary has added three more pairs of Downtown Outreach Addictions Partnership (DOAP) workers and Calgary Transit peace officers to aid in their efforts with Alpha House Society to help Calgary’s vulnerable population in transit.
Each pair of DOAP worker and peace officer work hand-in-hand as a team in connecting various commuters in need such as the homeless and those with alcohol and/or substance problems to medical aid, housing support and addiction services.
The pair also work together to build relationships and achieve positive long-term solutions with these individuals.
“The DOAP transit teams interact with Calgarians facing homelessness or addiction, troubled youth and people with developmental disabilities,” said Will Fossen, Calgary Transit Coordinator Public Safety and Enforcement. “The goal is to help these individuals find the resources they need.”
This expansion was funded through the city’s Community Safety Investment Framework (CSIF), which covers the cost of this partnership until March 2022. This is in addition to the only one pair working along the transit lines prior to the funding.
When it started as a pilot project in September 2018 and until April 2021, the DOAP transit team provided assistance on more than 2,500 occasions.
According to the city, the partnership’s efforts “resulted in a decrease of Calgary Transit customer reported incidents/safety concerns, particularly a decrease in social disorder reports”.
The city’s TransitWatch program, which enables commuters to report immediate safety concerns through texts or calls, is one of the primary tools being used by the DOAP transit team.
The Calgary branch of Alpha House Society is a non-profit charitable agency that has been providing a place of safety and care for those with alcohol and substance dependencies for 40 years. They have housed more than 100 individuals through their COVID-19 rapid housing response programs, and supported more than 3,800 people through their shelters this year.
The funding framework of this partnership, CSIF, is a collaboration between the city, its police officers and community partners to address and improve the ways Calgarians in crisis due to mental health concerns, addictions and similar challenges can access support.