The 1,400 homeless in Calgary are taking comfort in emergency shelters.
According to the Director of Economic and Social Policy Research in the School of Public Policy, Mr. Ron Kneebone, “most people think the only people who are homeless are the people you see on the streets; they are not. Most people need to understand that the number of people homeless today are not going to be the same people who were homeless the day before”.
It was also found that around 1,400 people were provisionally housed. This means that these individuals stay in institutions or reside in the homes of other people. However, they have nowhere to go if they are not welcomed anymore wherever they are staying. Prisoners, hospitalized individuals, and those who are staying temporarily in the homes of others can also be considered provisionally housed.
Moreover, one-fourth of Albertans who utilize emergency shelters come from Edmonton. One of the biggest factors that comes into play is the price of housing in the area. Those who are homeless often belong to the lower socioeconomic class. The income that they earn is usually not enough to cover the expenses related to housing in the communities where they reside.
Mr. Kneebone states that the solutions to the problem of homelessness should be tailored to the situation in the local communities. Each locality has different problems specific to them. With this, the local government needs to play a bigger role in providing solutions to the situation in their localities. All-encompassing policies at the national or provincial levels cannot adequately address the issue alone.
Some Sort of Relief for the Homeless in Calgary
Last month, the homeless in Calgary were provided with the necessary support to cope with the harsh weather conditions. The community development committee of Calgary decided to allocate 75,000 dollars as an emergency fund.
The Calgary Homeless Foundation was in charge of distributing the emergency fund to service providers. This was used to create more available physical space to cater to the volume of individuals needing such assistance. The emergency fund was also utilized to acquire appropriate clothes such as toques, mitts, and socks to provide them with warmth amidst the cold weather.
However, the creation of warming centers was not approved. It was previously proposed that an LRT station be utilized as a warming center. Instead, the government officials decided to use the shelters themselves for this purpose.
The COVID-19 pandemic also created limitations for service providers. Drop-in services have become unavailable ever since the pandemic started. These are supposed to be areas where the homeless in Calgary can stay for a while to eat, launder their clothes, and shower.
One of the stakeholders said that there are more opportunities for the different committees involved to discuss homelessness and housing. Having these discussions will allow more insight into the issue, which can be used to come up with creative solutions. These can then be incorporated into the plans of the government.
Some of the Homeless in Calgary do not Trust the Shelter System
There are also overlooked issues that the homeless in Calgary have with the shelter system in place. Some who avail of these services experience violence and theft, making them distrustful of the system. Apart from this, the physical space provided is not enough so that those taking shelter in the service houses can have some sort of privacy.
The homeless are also vulnerable to infection with COVID-19. However, there is also not enough space for these patients to seek refuge in the shelter system. This makes it difficult to promote the safety of the patient and those who they could possibly interact with.
Furthermore, there have also been reports of sexual violence experienced by women. Some shelters do not allow couples to stay in the same area due to segregation between genders. When women become separated from their partners, some feel uncomfortable due to the harassment they are vulnerable to.
This situation creates a negative perception of the shelter system. There have been observations by some patrols that there is an increased number of people choosing to sleep on the streets rather than in the shelters made available to them.
The Real Estate Market in Calgary
The demand for real estate in Calgary is increasing faster than the supply can cope with. Apart from this, there is also a lack of active listings, an increased interest in living in Calgary, and a rise in the prices of commodities. Altogether, these factors create a conducive environment for a further increase in the price of housing.
According to a survey conducted by the Royal LePage, the price of a house increased to 576,800 dollars. This is a 9% increase in the last quarter of 2021 alone. Other types of housing are also experiencing a similar trend. There was an 11.6% increase in the cost of a single-family detached home, which is currently priced at 650,800 dollars. The prices of condominiums also increased by 3.0%. They are now worth 224,700 dollars.
Limitations in the active listings within the single-family detached home market contributed to the increase in prices. Without the updated active listings, interested buyers start exploring townhouses.
Furthermore, citizens and residents from other provinces are also becoming increasingly interested in buying homes in Calgary. However, with bidding wars, individuals get worried about losing. This influences younger generations and first-time buyers to quickly purchase homes, even if it means paying before they conduct a property inspection visit. They are more interested in grabbing the first opportunity they can get in order to prevent purchasing too late.
Increased prices of oil and gas, supply chain concerns, and lower interest rates also contribute to the rise in prices of homes.
Moreover, there is a change in how individuals spend their savings. They are more likely to spend their money in order to improve their home environment. This is because homes now also serve as offices and study areas. Some also start their businesses at home. Given this, the utilization of homes has become different for families and individuals. Homes are not just spaces to reside in. Rather, they become places used for different purposes.
The increase in prices experienced last year will continue this year. It is expected that the cost of homes will increase by 10.5% year-over-year.
Individuals and families are now faced with increasing prices of homes in Calgary. However, there remains a portion of the population that is homeless. Without financial assistance and more opportunities to increase one’s income, not everyone may be able to afford the houses available on the market. There needs to be more discussion and contextualized solutions so that the homeless can enjoy security and improve their quality of life.
Those who plan to move to Calgary should also be aware of the expected increase in prices. This can affect one’s decision in choosing a place to live in and the type of house to invest in.