Calgary is made up of so many incredible neighbourhoods, each one taking pride in what makes it unique. You can’t go a day in this city without seeing a ‘I heart Bowness’ sticker on someone’s car, driving by a community garden or seeing someone sporting a ‘Hell or High Water’ t-shirt. Having a home and being part of a neighbourhood is all about a sense of belonging. It is about more than simply having a roof over your head or a permanent address, it leads to acceptance in a community.

Everyone in Calgary should be able to have a chance to belong. Studies have shown that a lack of housing can take a toll on a person’s mental and physical health. According to the Mental Health Commission, a lack of housing ‘can significantly reduce a person’s life expectancy and affect their chances to move out of poverty, engage in employment, and foster social networks.’ A study by Gillian Sandstrom and Elizabeth Dunn found that ‘even our interactions with people we do not know that well give us a sense that we are part of that larger community.’ A smile from someone at the grocery store, taking your kids to the local hockey rink or having a neighbour shovel your sidewalk – these are things we take for granted every day, but are so essential to our well being. When you are homeless, your interactions with people around you are not usually as positive. And with the current economic situation, people who don’t have a community of support are more vulnerable than ever. The unemployment rate is expected to reach a 23-year high before the economy starts improving and people who have a lack of social support become even more susceptible to poverty.

Calgary is in the midst of a homelessness crisis and a critical affordable housing shortage. Adding affordable housing to a neighbourhood allows fellow Calgarians to have that sense of community and belonging that we pride ourselves on in this city. Our next housing initiative is an option that would allow dozens of Calgarians to join a community once again and have that sense of belonging. Add your voice today and help change lives.