Stories - Alberta Human Services - Government of Alberta



With help through a Housing First program, Gordon was able to move from the street and reclaim his life. His future is looking optimistic, thanks in part to Alberta's 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness and provincial funding for outreach supports.

The stories of the homeless…finding success through a Housing First approach at the Pathways to Housing program in Calgary!

Dave is a 48 year old man with Schizoaffective Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and had a past heart attack. He was referred to Pathways with some concern, both from the referring agency and Pathways’ Psychiatrist that he may not be able to live independently due to the severity of his mental illness.

Dave had been hospitalized 26 times due to suicidal thoughts, and has had problems adhering to his medication regimen. His failure to take his medication has contributed to his housing instability for the last two decades, and he had been living on the streets, in shelters, and in group homes for two years prior to his enrolment in Pathways.

When Dave was enrolled in Pathways in April, he had an extreme tooth grinding problem due to his anxiety. Staff immediately began working with Dave to manage his anxiety and, in June, Dave went to Ontario for a week to visit family he had not seen in 4 years. The trip went off without a hitch, and Dave’s mother reported that without the help of the Pathways team the visit would not have been possible.

Since enrolment in Pathways, Dave has set a goal of returning to work, and has been washing windows for a number of clients. Dave’s tooth grinding problem has significantly decreased, and he has been focusing on taking his medication in order to better manage his anxiety and ultimately his housing. Dave is now beginning to enjoy normal activities he likely would have been unable to participate in when he first came to the Pathways program.

The stories of the homeless…finding success through a Housing First approach offered by Jasper Place Health & Wellness Center in Edmonton!

Barb has spent the last three years living on the streets of Edmonton.

Barb is 32 years old has a severe crack addiction and suffers from serious mental health issues.

Barb was sexually abused by her father from an early age.

She cannot work and can barely function in society and has a deep distrust of the “system”.

Barb started using the new rapid housing services of the Jasper Place Health and Wellness Center in September 2006. She has never been assessed for her mental illness and after many months of encouragement the workers there were able to have Barb begin the process of being assessed.

After many sessions Barb received a letter from a psychiatrist saying she was unable to work. An appointment with Alberta Employment and Immigration was booked. On the day of her appointment she met with her assigned worker and they put Barb on a temporary medical. (This medical pays for all of her medical needs, her first months rent and $320 a month to live on).

She was also able to access the Homeless Eviction Prevention Fund. That same day the rapid housing worker made an appointment to view an apartment for rent. They took Barb to the appointment to meet the landlord and he agreed to accept Barb as a tenant. Two days later she moved into her first permanent home after 3 years on the streets. 

The stories of the homeless…finding success through a Housing First approach offered by the Buffalo Hotel in Red Deer!

The Buffalo Hotel Housing (a 100 year old former hotel) provides Housing First services to 40 individuals with the greatest need who are currently living on the street. The individuals living on the streets, many struggling with mental illness and/or addictions, often fail to meet the established criteria needed to access available housing and support programs that often have a set of stringent rules that must be followed.

The Buffalo Hotel Housing First service provides the place for chronically homeless individuals to live with a sense of belonging and respect.

“Mary” is a tenant of the Buffalo Hotel Housing First and likes to show her bachelor “apartment” (a former corner room of the hotel) to anyone who is interested. Mary is close to being a senior; is slightly built and showing the difficult life she has lived. Mary enjoys making muffins as she said the other tenants of the Buffalo come to visit her to talk about life and she likes to have muffins for them to show them what ‘home’ can be like. She loves to show off her unit that she has decorated with items bought at thrift stores to stay within her budget.

Mary stresses how important the support of the staff and their acceptance of each person as an individual worthy of time and attention, with no demands to change is critical to the success of the Buffalo Hotel.

She talks about how she appreciates living independently and being able to have outside friends visit as one might in any “normal” housing. Mary’s smile is huge and her pride and sense of home matches that smile.

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