General Meeting – Sept 27, 2011

Capital Region Interfaith Housing Initiative

General Meeting

September 27, 2011   10:00 AM – 12 NOON
Pastoral and Administrative Offices – Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton
8421 – 101 Avenue, Edmonton


Opening prayer led by Audrey Brooks (U of A Unitarian Chaplain, member of the Interfaith Centre for Education and Action)

  1. Welcome and opening remarks delivered by Archbishop Richard Smith who commented that the growing number of participants is a witness of the deep commitment and moral importance of the Housing Initiative.
  2. Bob McKeon provided a brief history of the Interfaith Housing Initiative.
  3. The meeting notes from the May 11, 2011 general meeting have been distributed electronically to all participants.
  4. The following brief updates were provided:

Jay Freeman, Executive Director of the Edmonton Homeless Commission

The Edmonton Homeless Commission is launching a social marketing strategy called “No longer with us”.  Look for promotion on bus shelters, bus benches and at upcoming festivals.  There will be a re-launch next year.

  • Approximately 1500 people have been housed since the start of Edmonton’s 10 year Plan to End Homelessness 3 years ago.
  • The contract to develop the first part of the Welcome Home program, consisting of the program manual and training manual, has been awarded to Catholic Social Services.  The call for proposals to develop the second part of the program, the delivery module, will go out next week.
  • This year’s HOMEFEST, taking place on Nov. 6 at the Transalta Arts Bars, will headline Richard Wagamese.  Richard will also appear at a special function at City Hall on Nov. 7.  Richard is an Ojibway author.
  • Experience is showing that the Housing First Strategy does not work for all the homeless. Some clients have intensive needs that require 24/7 support.   An upcoming summit with front line agencies will look specifically at how to reach the “hidden homeless” and the “hard to house”.
  • The City of Edmonton is recognizing that dealing with homelessness needs to form part of its crime reduction strategy.  Homeless men are 9 times more likely to be victims of homicide.  According to figures from the Hope Mission, 21 of the 33 homicides which have taken place so far this year in Edmonton involved men which were homeless.

Dave Ward, Community Coordinator, Homeward Trust

Blue Quills First Nations College has produced a play based on a study it did on Aboriginal clients’ experiences with the Housing First Strategy.  The play is being promoted to coincide with National Housing Month which occurs in November.

  • The 2012 World Indigenous Housing Conference will take place in Vancouver.
  •  Homeless Connect takes place on October 16,
  • Dave provided a brief explanation of the role of Homeward Trust in the Housing First Strategy.

Don Mayne, No Room in the Inn (NRII) Campaign

The 2011 NRII campaign recipient will be WINGS of Providence, which is building a 29 unit apartment for women and children who are victims of family violence.  The apartment is called Our Home Next Door. The brochures for 2011 NRII campaign will be ready for distribution to congregations in late October. Last year’s campaign raised approximately $74,000.00  from 61 contributing churches.

Rev. Bob Peel,  Anglican Church

  • On September 29, 6 Anglican congregations will begin a 6 month program in partnership with the Bissell Centre aimed at interfacing with the homeless.  In March of 2012, the participating congregations will then report back to Bishop Jane Alexander on its findings/experience.

Rev. Pam Reichenbach, Strathcona Baptist Church

  • Approximately 10% of the City’s homeless are found on the south side.
  • The Do Likewise Society is working to establish a resource centre for the homeless south of Whyte Avenue and is currently working to secure a lease and find funding partners.  Pam is available to come and make a presentation to any interested groups. The Society’s annual general meeting takes place on October 13 and everyone is invited.

Mary Clare Stack, Catholic Social Services

  • Mary Clare was invited to speak on homelessness to the congregation and parish council at St. Thomas More Catholic Church. As a result of this meeting a committee was formed which took on the task of organizing educational homilies,  connecting with local schools to expose students to homelessness, and reaching out to  support Canora Place (a Housing First project).

Welcome Home Presentation

A team from Catholic Social Services, who won the contract to develop the Program Manual and the Volunteer Training Manual, made a detailed presentation.  The manuals were developed based on research of best practices, input from Housing First clients and an e-survey of community stakeholders.  The Interfaith Steering Committee was afforded an opportunity to provide feedback on the draft documents. The manuals are now available at

  • The vision behind Welcome Home is to put a face to the homeless, connect the homeless with the community, build healthy relationships and increase the success of Housing First clients in remaining housed. One of the most significant barriers to successfully housing the homeless is loneliness and isolation.
  • The key components of Welcome Home include:
    • Roles and responsibilities of the volunteer
    • Recruitment and screening of volunteers and clients
    • Criteria for matching volunteers with clients
    • Bundaries and safety protocols
    • Ongoing support/training and recognition of volunteers
    • Closure and evaluation of matches

The first two years of the Welcome Home program will be funded by the United Way with some support from the Edmonton Homeless Commission.  Funding beyond this time frame is uncertain, but there may be the possibility that the agency that wins the contract to run the program may contribute some funding.

  • Recruitment of volunteers will be done through a program coordinator and will include presentations to congregations.
  • Jay Freeman noted that the research work and the training manual will be made available to any agency who would like to use it for its own program development.
  • The volunteer recruitment and training is anticipated to begin before the end of the year.
  • Volunteers will not be allowed to carry over their screening results from other agencies.
  • Volunteers will be asked for an initial 6 month commitment, with the possibility of a 6 month renewal if the match is going well.
  • Clients will be referred to the Welcomed Home coordinator from the Housing First Support Team.
  • Volunteers will go through the screening process before being accepted for training,
  • The following comments were offered as feedback to the presenters:
    • The training schedule should offer flexibility
    • Add a stronger diversity in training beyond Aboriginal
    • Stress that proselytizing is not permitted
    • Can clients be entire families rather than just individuals

6.   Steering Committee Initiatives

Proposed Template for a Congregational Housing Workshop
One of the things requested at the May 11, 2011 general meeting was the development of a template that congregations could use for holding housing workshops. A draft template, prepared by Brian Kiely, a Steering Committee member, was distributed.  It provides a good general framework for congregations to use in planning a workshop and because it is not faith specific it can be adapted to different faith settings.   Anyone interested in volunteering to be part of a team that can help with developing and conducting housing workshops can leave their name and contact information on the sign up sheet.

Proposal for an Interfaith Initiative presence online

Mark Stanley, a Steering Committee member, is currently exploring options for the Interfaith Initiative to have a web presence.  These options include using Facebook and a blog.  Anyone interested in helping Mark on this project is invited to leave their name and contact information on the sign up sheet.

Steering Committee Membership – recruit new members

Broadening the faith composition of the Steering Committee is an ongoing challenge.

Revise Congregational Housing Action Guide

The Guide requires updating and hopefully this can be accomplished early in the New Year.  Please submit any ideas for revisions to Bob McKeon.

  1.  Upcoming Events:

Sunday, October 16         Homeless Connect (

Sunday, November 6       HOMEFEST at Transalta Arts Barns (


Next Interfaith Housing General Meeting

The general meetings have been taking place about every three months.  No firm date was set for the next meeting but it was agreed to avoid scheduling anything close to Christmas.

Date has since been set for Thursday, January 26th at 10 am- 12 noon at the Catholic Pastoral Centre, 8421-101 Ave. Edmonton.

Additional Information

The following 3 articles may be of interest to you as they relate directly to our ministry of Social Justice.