Calgary makes good on its promise to ease pressures on women’s shelters
By Matthew Hillier, Staff Writer
Calgary is currently experiencing an ongoing housing crisis that is affecting most, if not all Calgarians.
Rent and housing prices have been steadily increasing since last year. According to The City of Calgary, this means that one in five households are unable to afford living where they are. In addition, 84,600 Calgarians are spending more than 30 per cent of their income on housing every month; this high price may prevent them from investing in other necessities like clothing and fresh food.
A Housing Needs Assessment put out by the City of Calgary reports that an annual income of $84,000 is needed to adequately afford average market rent in 2023. In addition, they report that 56 per cent of Calgarians experience difficulties or long-term challenges in both personal and housing needs.
This problem isn’t going away anytime soon though; another recession is predicted to be on the horizon and housing markets and prices are only expected to increase until the economic damage from the COVID-19 recession is rectified.
This crisis is also majorly affecting a very vulnerable group of Calgrains.
The Herald reports that victims of domestic violence are now fearing that returning to their abusers or possibly facing homelessness are their only options, due to the Calgary housing crisis. This is also exasperated by the steadily increasing amount of domestic calls that Calgary police have been reporting for the past four years. In a report from Global News, the domestic violence and abuse hotline received a record-breaking 4,807 calls this summer.
A City News also article highlights that Alberta shelters are currently facing a 10-year high in number of calls for help.
This change can be partially attributed to the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic put financial pressure on individuals facing abuse and forced victims to spend more time with their abusers during times where lockdowns were necessary.
Short-term shelters in Calgary allow people facing abuse to stay for 40 days. However, the housing crisis means that many of these individuals will not produce enough capital or even find adequate housing at this time.
To make matters worse, the amount of beds these short-term shelters have is not adequate to face the needs of this vulnerable group, forcing these individuals to stay with friends or family or be put into hotels if they want a safe environment.
Additionally, the lack of available resources for short to long term stays has left many with little options and a lack of employment opportunities and housing, causing victims to be unable to land on their feet without extensive support from family or friends. If a victim is unable to lean on these supports, they will have to rely on support from city services, which is sadly lacking because of financial difficulties the city is facing, as well as the increasing number of people facing abuse.
However, there is a solution to this problem on the horizon.
There are now over 1,800 new emergency shelter spaces in Calgary. This increase couldn’t come at a better time — many shelters have been turning people away due to lack of space for months. In addition, a new 40-bed Mustard Seed location opened this October.
It seems like Calgary has been addressing this 50 per cent increase with these new shelters bolstering the 1,800 spaces for people facing vulnerability.
This doesn’t mean the current housing crisis is going to go away anytime soon, though. While there have been increases in the spaces, there are concerns that this may not be doing enough at a quick enough rate.
Alberta NDP housing critic Janis Irwin has stated in an article from The Hearld that these recent changes are far from solving the problem.
“The rapidly growing need for more shelter spaces is a clear indication that the housing crisis in our province is dire and worsening, and the UCP are continuing to ignore their responsibility in it.”
There is a lot more work to be done before the City of Calgary can face this current crisis and the vulnerable people impacted by it. Time will tell if the new shelters will meet these needs.