Below you will find media coverage and productions in relation to Centre 4800.
Courtesy of CTV News Calgary
Finding affordable housing is a constant challenge for many people in Calgary and those who are living in shelters face even more obstacles when they're ready to transition into their own apartment.
Munir Bakri moved to Calgary from Hamilton late last year to be closer to family and when his living arrangements fell through he found himself on the steps of the Calgary Drop-in and Rehab Centre.
Bakri spent a couple of months at the centre and in October was able to transition to his own apartment at Bridgeland Manor.
"It's wonderful. It's one bedroom, to get it is like luck, the way you see in the city, it's difficult to find a place," said Bakri. "It's very quiet, nice neighbourhood, close to downtown, so I'm amazed that a shelter owns its own residence place, it's amazing."
He says it's important for the Drop-in Centre to have more complexes like Bridgland Manor so more people can get back to leading productive lives. "When people have a place they can be productive," he said. "Definitely, I support because always when you go through the housing list it takes years to wait, I see many people even have medical issues, low income, go there and just wait so this kind of investment is another way to help people." The manager of the property says she sees a difference right away when former Drop-In Centre clients move in.
"It's life-changing. There's a dog eat dog world out there and when they come and have their own apartment then it just changes them altogether. Their self-esteem comes back, their self-worth. They're able to do things that they couldn't at the Drop-in Centre and they want to learn how to cook. We share recipes, we do potluck so that they can experiment on the rest of us and we just try to see how we can help each other in the building," said Sharon Milgate, Coordinator, Supported Living Services, Calgary Drop-in and Rehab Centre.
Milgate says this type of housing sets clients up for success by providing programs, supports and services to help them transition and rebuild their lives.
"We continue on with it while they're residents as well and provide services that no other apartment building would do for its residents," she said. "For example, I might take them to the doctor's office if they have mobility issues or if they're afraid of going there themselves. I also set up a shopping day, a monthly shopping day where I take them for groceries or anything that they want."
There are 49 rooms at Bridgeland Manor and currently the waiting list to get in is about three times that.
The Drop-In Centre says it has another building ready to go but that it has been tied up in red tape for the last few months so it is sitting vacant. Centre 4800 in the city's northeast was purchased by the Drop-In Centre about three years ago and is part of a larger development for the area called Greenview Commons.
The city rejected the original plans for the mixed-use development of the old hotel on McKnight Boulevard and some residents in nearby communities are opposed to the idea.
The Drop-In Centre's Executive Director, Debbie Newman, says part of the problem is that there is a misconception surrounding the homeless community and that education is needed to break down those barriers.
"It really boils down to education. We need to be able as agencies to work with communities to talk to them about the reasons why people become homeless and to educate them around some of the misconceptions. Not everyone that walks through our doors is a criminal. We have many people that are well-educated that were in not-so-nice relationships that had a health issue that got them on E.I., couldn't afford the rent, ended up coming to our place. There's just so many different stories," she said.
Newman says there's bad apples everywhere and that the goal is to identify those people who would truly benefit from living in their own home and help them to achieve their independence.
"The message is there is such a great need for housing, especially for the marginalized people that live in shelter. It's a challenge for most people that walk through our doors to try to build their life up from where they came," said Newman. "We need to be able to pick them up and to provide them with guidance, to give them some security, to give them hope that there's another place that they can move into, graduate from, using the shelter, and then move into their own place."
The Calgary Drop-In and Rehab Centre has appealed the city's rejection of the project and filed a revised plan that will include more public consultation. It hopes to have people living in Centre 4800 later this year or by early 2017.
Centre 4800 is the first part of a much larger vision, Greenview Commons, to regenerate the area.
Courtesy of Branded Magazine
Written by: Hanna McLean
Larry lives in Sundial Apartments.
Looking at Larry now, you wouldn't assume he had lived a difficult life full of obstacles. But the reality is, the 66-year-old has experienced an existence with enough tragedy to fill up three lifetimes. The Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre Society helped him get back on his feet, and into supportive housing. If approved, Centre 4800 would help more people like Larry.
Larry Lintick and I walked towards Olympic Plaza on a crisp morning. We passed a man curled up and perched on a large rock at the base of the bridge leading into the park. His few possessions were spilling out onto the ground in front of him: a worn hat, a backpack, and a cardboard sign reading 'Christian man looking for a decent job'. His situation, homelessness, was arduous, and one that Larry was all too familiar with.
Looking at Larry now, you wouldn't assume he had lived a difficult life full of obstacles. But the reality was, the 66-year-old had experienced an existence with enough tragedy to fill up three lifetimes. He wore a grey button-down shirt and held his red Flames cap in his weathered hands as we settled into a corner table at Waves Coffee House on 8th Street. Larry reached out for the mug of coffee in front of him, "I like when they give you a real mug at coffee shops, instead of those flimsy paper cups," he says.
There was a time when Larry couldn't have imagined sitting in a café drinking fresh coffee out of a clean porcelain mug, "When you're homeless you don't have the confidence to do a lot of things. You feel like 'I can't go in there because I'm not one of them'," he says, remembering walking past coffee shops when he was living on the streets of Calgary.
It wasn't long until I discovered Larry had lived a relatively privileged life up until a series of events had him faced with living on the streets. I quickly learned he was one of the most well-travelled people I'd ever met. He'd lived in Jakarta, Indonesia, travelled to Ireland and Europe, and had been to every state in the U.S. except Alaska. So what happened along the way that left his life in shambles?
Larry's childhood was relatively pleasant, although he admits there were some challenges when it came to his relationship with his father, "My dad played in the NHL for half a season and then broke his leg and finished his career. He wanted someone to go on and play in his legacy," he says. "I wasn't athletic; this really set up a wall between me and my father."
Larry attended boarding school and eventually met his wife, Carol, during an optician apprenticeship. He was in love and had a promising career ahead of him. The couple had five children together. Larry openly admits he was a 'rotten father' because he was busy with work, but he still loved being a dad, "Teaching them, watching them. Them teaching me, that was the best."
In 1978 when Larry was 29 years old he was in a serious car accident. He was T-boned by a drunk driver at an intersection, which left him in critical condition. After a year in the hospital Larry walked away alive, but not unscathed; he suffered third degree burns on over 60 per cent of his body, "It was painful to be burnt, but that wasn't the worst part," he says. "The psychological part is unbelievable."
At this point in his life, Larry had established a successful janitorial business with contracts all over the city, as well as a delivery service that travelled to different restaurants around Calgary. Whatever work he had built up came to a sudden halt when the accident happened, "At that time I was on a lot of morphine because I was in pain. That's when my drug addiction started." Along with morphine, Larry began using coke and continued to dabble with marijuana. Larry had started using drugs when he was 15 years old, but after the accident, his drug use wasn't as innocent as smoking pot at the height of Beatlemania, "It was a big strain. Drugs are very expensive. The wife was juggling everything – I could barely walk when I got out of the hospital."
Four years after Larry was released from the hospital, Carol was diagnosed with breast cancer, "We went through the usual rollercoaster ride of that, she went in and had chemo and everything, but a while later it was back." He recalls one of the most traumatic times in his life was when Carol chose to undergo a mastectomy, "It would have been less cruel if she just would've went," he says. "For her, that killed Carol right there."
This left Larry feeling confused about where he would end up in the future, and had him wondering whether Carol would be beside him when he landed there. Although Carol's suffering is now a distant memory, the pain of her passing is evidently still very real.
"She asked me to kill her a couple of times," he says, struggling to talk about this time. It was at this point in his life that Larry's drug use got progressively worse. As I continued to ask Larry about his late wife, his eyes welled with emotion, I was witnessing him remember again, "Imagine seeing your life partner wasting away in front of you, and there's nothing you can do about it, absolutely nothing."
Larry looks at me, and then turns toward the window. He pauses, takes a deep breath, and then faces me again, "Lost? You want to talk about lost?" he says. "After Carol passed, the kids were looking to me, and I didn't have the answers. I mean, I was barely hanging in there myself."
Larry eventually sent his children to his sister's home in Denver, Colorado. He describes his sister as "coming to the rescue," providing his children with guidance and a stable place to call home. After his children were out of the picture, Larry had nothing to hold him back from total obliteration, so he further numbed his depression, "I basically lost everything I had through drugs and booze."
He began moving from couch to couch crashing at friends' places, but this got old quickly, "People were trying to help me, but I wasn't trying to help myself. I wasn't ready yet." Larry ended up on the streets, and his last option for shelter was the Calgary Drop-In & Rehab Centre. He spent a great deal of time there trying to get clean and sober using the resources the centre had, while also working to abide by the centre's strict 'no drug' policy, "When I was on the streets, I had lost the respect of my children. To a parent that's the ultimate, when you don't have your children's respect. So I started to climb out, started working, and tried to rebuild a life."
It took four attempts to finally get sober and save up enough money to start his life again, "A lot of people have alcohol problems, and the Drop-In tries to help them, and some of the things you see there are really sad."
He takes a sip of his coffee and pauses again. Larry is recalling some painful instances, some things he hasn't thought about for a long time, "It bothers me when I see things there, because I can't imagine what I was like." Larry says it was his children and his now 96-year-old mother that motivated him to get clean, "My mother was really good to me, and I had really let her down. I'll bet you over the years I've probably pawned my mother out of $100,000-$150,000 dollars easily. And she caught onto me and was disgusted."
His mother cut ties with him after this realization, leaving Larry completely isolated from any family. Despite this being a trying period in Larry's life, not every day was a grim one. I ask him if he remembered any acts of kindness during his homelessness, Larry suddenly smiled, "I remember I needed a pair of shoes, the shoes I was wearing weren't suitable. I was up at SAIT picking bottles, and there was a janitor outside smoking a cigarette. He called me over and asked me what size my feet were, he went in and gave me a brand new pair of sneakers."
It was moments like this that eventually inspired Larry to make a change. After a few months of sobriety, part-time labour work, and waiting, Larry qualified for a pension, which along with a donation from the Homeless Foundation, gave him enough money to rent a one-bedroom apartment in one of the Drop-In entre's residential buildings in downtown Calgary.
Larry is now retired, and living happily off of his pension. He has reconnected with his children and his mother, and has planned trips to visit them all in the next few months. Larry has also recently become a great-grandfather, something he'd previously never thought he'd survive to become, "I found myself asking, 'What did I do? Go pick on someone else for a change!'" he says, "Now, I'm getting older, and I realize life, it's just, no one's picking on you, it just happens."
There's something to be said about those who rise from the dark corners of busy metropolises – it's difficult to conquer addiction and struggle the way Larry has. He has a strong spirit about him – an unwavering one at that – and he displays more optimism than some people I know who have consistently maintained a high quality of life.
Larry's story is a tale of triumph, and even though it's not a glamorous one, it's a story he's proud of, "I've now accomplished something with my life," he says smiling.
"All the money and success in the world doesn't mean anything if you don't feel you've accomplished something."
Courtesy of Global News
Through our housing programs, we are helping people like Karen Steele change their lives and reconnect with those who matter most. If approved, Centre 4800 would allow us to help more people like her. Learn more at centre4800.thedi.ca and watch Karen's story on Global News here.
Courtesy of Metro News
Written by: Brodie Thomas
With less than a month to go before an appeal is heard, the Calgary Drop-In Centre is launching a new campaign in support of Centre 4800.
Add your voice to the list of people who support a permanent home to formerly homeless men and women by signing a petition.
Your letter may be shared with politicians and others who will decide the fate of Centre 4800.
The Drop In wants to turn this former Hotel in Greenview Industrial Park into affordable and supported housing. The plan is going before an appeal board next month. With less than a month to go before an appeal is heard, the Calgary Drop In Centre is launching a new campaign in support of Centre 4800.
The controversial plan to turn an old hotel in the Greenview Industrial Park into affordable and supported housing was turned down by the Calgary Planning Commission, but the Drop In has since gone to the Calgary Development Appeal Board.
In the run-up to the appeal hearing, The Drop In has launched a digital campaign to gather signatures on a petition and sway public support on the issue.
Debbie Newman, executive director of the Drop In, said there needs to be an educational campaign to let people know about the desperate need for affordable housing.
As for the cost of that campaign, which includes online advertisements, Newman said the money is coming from the Drop In's rental income.
"People seem to think it's donors' money that's going to offset these things, but our board approves budgets," she said. "It's not coming out of the taxpayer or the government funding."
Ward 4 Coun. Sean Chu said the project is not right for the community. He said initially the Thorncliffe Greenview Community Association was ready to hear the Drop In's proposal, but trust was eroded over time as plans changed.
"Thorncliffe Greenview is already to the saturation point of affordable housing," said Chu. He added that in city planning, putting more than 40 units of affordable housing in one place is considered a bad idea.
Newman said the project currently has 79 units. The plans now call for each unit to have a kitchen.
The original plan was for 120 single-unit rooms, but the Drop In has been trying to adapt to concerns from city planners and the community.
Newman has faith that the Development Appeal Board will allow the project when it meets on March 22nd.
"We've received a lot of online support," she said. "Housing is a need for everyone no matter who you are."
Courtesy of Metro News