Historically, individuals facing homelessness were tasked with dealing with any ailments they had while still living in conditions not suitable for human habitation. Calgary Housing and Employment Services (CHES) provides individuals facing homelessness with supported housing and employment strategies along with specialized legal services that increase quality of life, foster sustainable independence and create more vibrant and inclusive communities in Calgary. This innovative model uses a three phase approach, providing housing supports for high acuity individuals in the Stabilization phase, providing wrap-around supports, including specialized legal services, during the Engagement Phase, and with the Employment Phase, provides skills-building and supported employment services, all designed to provide homeless individuals with the tools and resources to live independently.
SUPPORTED HOUSING PROGRAM
The CHES Supported Housing Program (SHP) provides homeless individuals with housing options, using both place-based and scattered-site housing models of placement. The SHP operates under the Housing First Principle. This principle focuses on, as a first order of priority, providing homeless individuals with their own home. This is a key starting point for individuals, especially when they begin stabilization and recovery processes from the multitude of issues stemming from homelessness. CHES adheres to a harm reduction, Intensive Case Management housing model, with comprehensive intake and assessment procedures, to ensure that chronically homeless individuals, with the most barriers to housing, are prioritized.
The SHP is a client-driven process, and the assessment process enables CHES to work with clients to prepare services plans that are directly tailored for the individual’s unique needs. The SHP will also collaborate with key stakeholders in the community, to ensure effective and meaningful services are provided for our clients.
SUPPORTED EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM
CHES, as part of a larger collaborative homeless serving community, offers the Supported Employment Program (SEP) to individuals who are currently engaged in other Calgary housing first programs and have already stabilized. The SEP will utilize employment acquisition and retention strategies to assist individuals in obtaining and maintaining stable employment. Clients will benefit from individually-driven pre-employment skill development, job placement services and extensive on-site employment retention supports.
With nearly all homeless individuals citing some form of barrier to achieving sustained employment, it is essential that newly housed individuals receive Supported Employment strategies for addiction and/or chronic and acute health issues, mental illness, criminal record and anger management related issues. The SEP framework will also build understanding and awareness of homelessness for employers, create inclusive and accepting environments, and tackle logistical issues, such as transportation costs, among other things.
Our comprehensive approach to Supported Employment is designed to provide on-going mentorship in the workplace that allows clients to gain self-confidence, become independent and begin contributing to society as a whole. The SEP is based on a rapid/fast-track placement model with a heavy emphasis on retention services. These on-site/on-call supports will be tailored around both employee and employer needs while focusing on creating successful long term employment relationships throughout Calgary.
HOMELESS LEGAL SERVICES
The Homeless Legal Advocacy Project (HLAP) through its legal advocacy services works to minimize or eliminate the legal barriers affecting homeless individuals and preventing their ability to live independently. HLAP provides individualized legal supports to clients, as well as more general advocacy activities aimed at addressing the root causes of homelessness which includes:
- Addressing outstanding or emerging legal issues (criminal charges, warrants, traffic or city bylaw offences, family law matters, and landlord & tenant disputes, among other things).
- Providing legal counseling, information, referrals, and advice to our clients, with the aim of promoting independent living through a proper understanding and awareness of the legal system and individual rights and responsibilities.
As well, HLAP will work with key stakeholders and policy-makers to address broad, long-term policy and legislative issues, with a view to creating the positive pre-requisites to end homelessness. HLAP will continuously conduct systematic and targeted legislative and policy review and use evidence-based models to engage Government, the private sector, and communities to create awareness and meaningful change for individuals affected by homelessness.