News roundup: Why Alberta “kicks butt”

Here’s a roundup of recent media stories on social issues affecting Calgary:

Ahead of the game in Alberta
Calgary Herald columnist Karin Klassen singles out Alberta’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness for praise. When it comes to keeping people off the streets, “Alberta kicks butt” and is “quietly way ahead of the game,” she writes. Klassen points to promising statistics: “among more than 6,000 people who have been helped in crisis situations, an astounding 80 per cent remain in stable housing three years later.” She also gives a shout out to frontline staff in Alberta’s social services sector. “If you know one, hug them for a hard job actually well done,” she writes.

Too much room at the Inn
Herald reporter Jason van Rassel reports on Inn From the Cold’s struggle to staff a new wing that could help 20 additional families. For the past year, Inn From the Cold has been exceeding its 20-family capacity and has taken in an average of 10 or 15 additional families, sometimes in hotel rooms as a last resort. “Hotel rooms are no place for a family in crisis,” the agency’s executive director, Linda McLean, told van Rassel.

Good policy cheaper in long run
Jordon Cooper, a columnist for the Saskatoon StarPhoenix and a manager at a Saskatoon homeless shelter, writes about people he encounters who have education and good employment history but have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. “Statistically, many of the people whom I see are at a higher risk for suicide or living a high-risk lifestyle as they struggle to cope,” he writes. Cooper points out that investing in housing for such people makes sense both socially and financially. He also identifies Alberta’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness as an example of an investment that will pay off in the long run.

Breakdown – CBC series on mental health
And speaking of mental health: be sure to tune into CBC this week for its special series on mental health, Breakdown. All week CBC Calgary will be doing stories – on radio, TV and online – about different aspects of mental health. And next week, CBC is hosting a free public forum on youth and mental health at the Central Library:

Leadership on secondary suites is long overdue
“These suites represent an important supply of affordable housing in Calgary,” writes prominent businessman and philanthropist W. Brett Wilson in the Herald. “If  the city were to eliminate illegal suites, where else will the tenants go, except to homeless shelters that are already crowded? There is certainly enough capital in our community to bring these places to code. What we lack is legislation requiring landlords to do so.”

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