As of the city’s last point in time count in November 2016, there were over 3,200 men and women living either in Calgary shelters or on the street. An optimist might take solace in knowing that although the city’s population has continued to increase at a breakneck pace, homelessness has not seen a significant increase in the last decade. It has, in fact, actually declined – if only slightly – from a peak of over 4,000 in 2008.

But such “good news” is starkly overshadowed by the difficult reality that there continues to be a large number of people who require the help of either the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre or one of our partners every day. Almost 1,200 people sleep here every night and nearly twenty thousand people came to us for help last year. It’s a sobering reminder that we as a city have a lot of work ahead of us in our collective goal to end homelessness.

But as we approach the ten year anniversary of Calgary’s plan to end homelessness, it begs an important question: What does ending homelessness mean to you?

Does it mean being able to walk down the street without seeing a bottle picker sorting through the garbage in search of a day’s pay? Stopping at an intersection without a pan handler knocking on your window asking for change? Having the peace of mind of knowing every single Calgarian has a roof over their head, food in their fridge, and clothing on their back?

Or does it mean something altogether different?

For our friends at the Calgary Homeless Foundation, at the City of Calgary, and at all levels of government, ending homelessness means creating the all-important social safety net required to get every single person the housing and access to support services they need.

Here at the Calgary Drop-In Centre, it means being the entry point for people experiencing poverty; learning what our clients’ needs are and providing the range of wraparound services they require to achieve their goals – be that housing, employment, job training, medical services, or a combination thereof.

And for the people we serve, it often just means holding onto the hope that one day someone might deem them worthy of taking a chance on. Believing the life they’re living today doesn’t have to be the one they’re stuck with forever.

Everyone has a part to play in ending homelessness. In the pages ahead, we profile the work a number of our partners are doing and the impact it’s making. We discuss some new initiatives the Calgary Drop-In Centre has rolled out over the past year and our hopes for the progress it might realize. And we hope to empower you to discover what ending homelessness means to you and what your role is in helping this city lead the way in becoming a place where homelessness is not only solvable, but no longer accepted as a mere side effect of city living.