Homelessness and Mental Health

The first Homelessness at Home Team in 2010.

The first Homelessness at Home Team in 2010.

The Homelessness at Home program has been a component of the ucalgarycares Reading week program in partnership with the Mustard Seed since 2010. Each year the program has provided students the opportunity to learn about homelessness in Calgary through volunteering and experiential learning opportunities such as ‘a day in the life’ and ‘night tours’.
Homelessness and mental health have been the primary focus of the Homelessness at Home program. This will facilitate connections between ucalgarycares and the 2012-2013 Common Read program.

While once targeted to first years, Homelessness at home has grown to include 20-25 student from all years and disciplines of study during February Reading Week. This program introduced students to service-learning; students spend 4 days downtown working with the Mustard Seed shelter. In addition to volunteer projects, participants hear from guest speakers and learn about poverty and homelessness from members of our community.

See blog posts from the  2013 program.

The experience was incredible and one of a kind. Not only did we learn valuable lessons that we may not have found elsewhere, it was rewarding, relationship building, challenging, and I feel we completed the program having learned about ourselves, our city, our society, and greater depth into a community most people had never been a part of, and therefore previously knew little about.” –2012 Participant

I had a blast and saw my city in a new light.” — 2012 Participant

4 Responses to Homelessness and Mental Health

  1. sana kaleem says:

    I would like to get more details and volunteer maybe

  2. Judy Lapointe says:

    if you only knew what my life experience has been like living in shelters and homeless foundation building. Staff so brutal they’ve caused more then one suicide attempts that I know of. Drugs, alcohol, crime is the day to day environment in these shelters but the people to fear the most are staff. I have this burning association in my head these days the YWCA is no different the residential schools. Sexual abuse within foster care has grown to the point it’s looking like sex trafficking, yet when a young child was sexually violated in foster care YWCA ignored it and caused so much stress on the victims the child was returned back into these sexually abusive environments. The question I wish society would ask is what is the eviction rates within these shelters and homeless foundation? I’m witnessing more evictions then those being housed. In this building alone every tenant was evicted by the homeless foundation, one year later all women who were given permanent housing have been given notices to move. I’ve seen apartments empty for over six months while shelters are so full you can’t get in. People who are homeless aren’t the one’s mentally ill, it’s the management creating programs designed to harm the very people they claim to be helping. You can’t be mentally healthy while causing harm to others.

    Judy Lapointe

    • armikaipainen says:

      Hi Judy, thank you so much for sharing your story – I am so so sorry to hear about your experiences “in the system.” This program is really just an introduction for students to begin thinking critically about issues related to poverty and homelessness. What they learn very quickly, is that the issues, and attempted solutions, are never straightforward.

  3. Judy Lapointe says:

    when you don’t have solutions, solutions never appear straightforward. When you see solutions, the road is very clear and straightforward. Every problem is born with it’s solution, which means we can end homelessness and poverty, that answers are very clear and straightforward – but you have to be looking for clear solutions, if your not looking for it you’ll never find what you aren’t searching for.

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