Vulnerable populations in our area

As the fallout of the pandemic continues to unfold in our city and around the country, there is a perception that crime has increased. Whether or not this is actually the case, it would certainly seem that folks in our area are more keenly aware of suspicious people in the neighbourhood, encampments, open substance use and general social disorder.

With the housing vacancy rate in Calgary ranging from just 1.2 to 1.9 per cent in parts of the city, the housing crisis that we keep hearing about has come to our doorstep, and indeed our Facebook chat page.

Recently, a resident posted photos of what they referred to as “squatters” in our neighbourhood on the TGCA Community Chat Page on Facebook. It was a trailer set up in the back of a residence with tarps strung up and debris strewn about. Chat page members speculated about the reasons for this and some revealed what they thought they knew about it. There were some nasty language and hurtful slurs included in some comments, and the anger, frustration and fear that residents feel was apparent as the comments went on.

Then something changed, one after the other, residents chimed in with a different perspective on the situation. One person said her sister and family had been forced to move into a trailer after having to leave their home and finding nothing they could afford. Another mentioned that she worked for an outreach service in the city, and she’d never seen things so desperate.

The angry fervor in the comments section slowly became more compassionate with the telling of first hand accounts of Calgarians who are struggling or know people who are. They’ve done their best and somehow that’s not good enough to afford the simple necessities we all need. It’s a devastating story that’s become more common in our area and many others.

Vulnerable populations is a broad term. It could refer to a minority, those living in poverty or even just children. Alpha House uses the term to describe their clients, namely the unhoused, mentally ill and addicted in our city but primarily downtown, and with an increasing supply of street drugs spiked with deadly levels of Fentanyl, their services are literally lifesaving.

Having compassion for those who are struggling can lead to better outcomes for everyone, so try not to look away and instead ask yourself what that person may be going through.

Check out the services for those in need page on our site if you know someone who needs more info about resources in the area. 

We encourage everyone to learn about how to engage with vulnerable populations in our area, and, if needed, contact Alpha House for the following: an apparent mental illness episode, intervention with a person who is unhoused, encampments on public/city property, stray syringes. Please find more info on their site here.  

You can also call 211. 211 is a single access point to get information on a full range of social, health, and government services.

If you see people trespassing or acting suspiciously, call the non-emergency CPS line and make a report or report online. 403-266-1234 | calgary.ca/cps/report-a-crime.html

For all emergencies or crimes in progress, call 911.

TGCA Programming & Community Engagement Coordinator

Programming and Community Engagement Coordinator at the TGCA, v.gillard@tgcacalgary.com

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