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New support center in Calgary gives homeless people access to multiple services under one roof

Shelter information, identification card printing and mental health care and additional support are among some of the services that will be available to homeless Calgarians when a new support center opens in the city’s downtown later this year.

The navigation and support centre, the second of its kind in the province, is aimed at easing the pressures faced by frontline and first responders, the province said in making the announcement on Wednesday.

It is a joint project between the Government of Alberta, the City of Calgary and several community organizations including Alpha House, the Calgary Drop-In Center and others.

This comes after the success of a similar center opened in Edmonton earlier this year to address ongoing encampment issues in that city.

“When this process started in early January, there were over 700 encampments in the city of Edmonton, people were losing their lives,” said Jason Nixon, Alberta’s minister of seniors, community and social services.

“There’s a significant difference in the city, it’s much safer… we’ve been able to get the individuals out of those encampments and into compassionate, real services.”

According to the province, more than 1,850 people walked through downtown Edmonton. More than 5,000 referrals and direct connections to services have been made and there have been approximately 1,000 referrals to housing programs and connections to shelter services.

“By promoting collaboration between government and community departments, we can not only achieve better social outcomes, but also greater financial returns,” said Patricia Jones, president and CEO of the Calgary Homeless Foundation.

“We look forward to the center’s positive impact on the lives of our most vulnerable citizens.”

With the success of the center in Edmonton, Nixon said he is optimistic it will achieve the same result in Calgary, adding that this model could be replicated in provinces across Canada.

“We also have an opportunity to set an example for the rest of the country,” Nixon said.