General Meeting: June 7, 2012

Capital Region Interfaith Housing Initiative on Homelessness & Affordable Housing
General Meeting
June 7, 2012, 10:00- 12:00pm
Bob McKeon welcomed everyone and offered regrets from Archbishop Richard Smith who was unavailable to attend. Bob explained the intent of the meeting was to focus on how we can specifically help aboriginal people with the obstacles they face in regards to homelessness and obtaining affordable housing.
Limited time was allotted for updates, but the following information was shared with the plenary group:

Sr. Mary Clare-Catholic Social Services
Welcome Home Program
CSS has presented to 9 of the 12 Housing First teams. Jackie Bass, program director, has been interviewing the possible volunteers. Kaeli Freehan and Clare Rolheiser have been helping to train and screen volunteers.
The fund referred to as the Discretionary Fund in the past, is now referred to as the Activity Fund. The money collected in this fund is to allow the Welcome Home volunteers and their match an opportunity to enjoy community outings without fiscal burdens. A fund of $40.00/month per match has been budgeted. This fund enables both the Housing First participant and the volunteer to plan activities together, without feeling embarrassed or uncomfortable. This is an important part of the program, but requires donated contributions to be available. Please see the letter explaining this program and need for donations. (attached).
Kaeli Freehan-Catholic Social Services
Habitat for Humanity Interfaith Build
Habitat for Humanity is one of the options stated in the Congregational Housing Action Guide for Edmonton Religious and Spiritual Communities prepared by the Capital Region Interfaith Housing Initiative. It was suggested at the Interfaith Steering Committee meeting early in the year, that the steering committee encourage their religious communities to come together and volunteer together with Habitat for Humanity.
The goal for the May Interfaith build was to provide 110 volunteers. The goal was met and exceeded with 120 volunteers. Further, many congregations are continuing to sign up for shifts. Special recognition was given to McClure United Church who provided 25 volunteers and supplied lunch for 5 days. This was a very big contribution from such a small congregation!
Habitat for Humanity contacted representatives from the Interfaith Housing group and invited them to a debriefing meeting of the build which took place on Wednesday, June 13, 2012. There is a recommendation that we do another interfaith habitat build in 2013.
Information about volunteering with Habitat for Humanity can be found at or by phoning the volunteer coordinator at 780-451-3416.

Brian Kiely-United Church of Edmonton
Welcome Home Congregational Workshops
Sr. Mary Clare and Brian Kiely have been providing congregational workshops to educate people on the many ways they can assist with challenge of Homelessness and Affordable Housing. The Congregational Housing Action Guide is used to walk participants through some of the options available and let the parish choose which volunteer activity/strategies would be the right fit for them. If anyone is interested in hosting a workshop, please contact Brian Kiely at . Also, there is a DVD of Sr. Mary Clare’s presentation, specifically on the Welcome Home Program, available for viewing.
There is a committee currently working to create a revised version of the Congregational Housing Action Guide which they hope will be ready for publishing in the fall 2012. Please contact Bob McKeon at if you have any suggestions for revisions or additions.

Jay Freeman-Executive Director of the Homeless Commission
Edmonton Homeless Commission
Jay spoke briefly about entering into Edmonton’s 4th year of the 10 year plan to end homelessness. Recently, the year 3 update has been made available and it is available for viewing at . Jay was pleased to announce that over 1800 people have been housed with 85% retention rate to date.

Pam Reichenbach-Do Likewise Society
Neighbor Center
Many homeless people are choosing to live on the south side of the city but there are few services in south Edmonton for people in need. The Neighbor Centre is an initiative of the Edmonton Do Likewise Society. It will be a small scale storefront outreach centre located at 7221 104 street. Pam shared that they are currently looking for volunteers skilled in the building trades or experienced in doing renovations as they work to renovate an old restaurant into the outreach center. If you are able to help, please contact Pam at or call (780) 439-3654.
Those present were introduced to Larry McCormick their new program director.

Dave Ward
Homeward Trust
Dave Ward, Director of Aboriginal Relations at Homeward Trust, presented an in-service on the over-representation of Aboriginals experiencing homelessness. He shared his personal experience of growing up in an Aboriginal family, the sacrifices that were made in order to obtain a post-secondary education, and his unique perspective on the homelessness crisis. Offering suggestions on incorporating Aboriginal
tradition into new practices enlightened the audience on the “walk with” and “Education is our Buffalo” philosophies.
The presentation was divided into 2 sections, Aboriginal Identity and Homeward Trust. We were educated on the different Aboriginal groups in Canada and specifically in Alberta.
With the use of statistics on Aboriginal over-representation in the foster care system, prisons and those living in below standard housing, he was able to clearly state the immense need for specific intervention strategies.
Dave provided a comprehensive overview of all the ways Homeward Trust funds and coordinates efforts to end homelessness in Edmonton. Provincial and federal funding make up the majority of their budget to run their many initiatives. These initiatives include, Housing First, capital projects, planning & research and Aboriginal relations. From offering frontline support including the supply of household furniture through FIND:Furniture Bank, to the recognition of required further research Homeward Trust is an essential organization. Members of faith communities are invited to donate gently-used furniture, kitchen & household items, and household electronics to the Furniture Bank. For pick-up services call 780-988-1717.
A You tube video was shared featuring MP Charlie Angus on First Nation Peoples living in below standard conditions. It can be viewed at
A very sincere thank you to Dave Ward for sharing his knowledge and personal stories in his presentation. Dave’s obvious passion for bettering the lives of others Homelessness is inspiring.

Upcoming Events:

  • October 16, 2012 Homeless Street Count
  • October 21, 2012 Homeless Connect

Volunteers are needed for both of these events.
Please contact Homeward Trust for more information at 780-780-496-2630 or visit
Visit us at the Capital Region Interfaith Housing Initiative on Homelessness and Affordable Housing Website located at

Next General Meeting of the Capital Region Interfaith Housing Initiative will be in scheduled in September 2012.