Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society provides grassroots leadership and an inclusive process, with a voice for all community members, to ensure that our community grows and develops in a way that incorporates an environmental ethic, offers a range of housing and transportation choices, encourages a vibrant and cultural life and supports sustainable, meaningful employment and business opportunities.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Michael's Musings

From couches to floors to a place called home
By Michael J Morris
She went from couches to floors to couches but now has a place to call home as Medicine Hat, Alberta seeks to become the first Canadian municipality to end homelessness.

CBC News has reported that the southern Alberta city of about 61,000 is "on the cusp of making history" according to Mayor Ted Clugston, by ending homelessness there by 2015.

Medicine Hat was one of seven Alberta municipalities to adopt a Housing First approach to fighting homelessness and it is managed by the Medicine Hat Community Housing Association.

Mayor Clugston told CBC News it is on target to be completely successful by 2015.

"Our goal is to be the first municipality in Canada to end homelessness." the mayor said.

The idea is to stop focusing on temporary shelters and instead make it a priority to get homeless people in places of their own, the CBC report said.

Shades in a way of the proposed, now somewhere on a back burner project, that was being considered for Cranbrook which would have included some apartments at least on a transitional basis. The Medicine Hat project takes it all a step further by getting people into their own homes.

In British Columbia, there is a somewhat similar program for persons with some disabilities who are able to live in their own place rather than an institution. Also for people on social assistance.

In reading the CBC story I was also most impressed to discover that Mayor Clugston was not always in favour of the project. It is not often today, it seems, to find a politician at any level who is willing to change his/her mind based on new evidence and openly admit it.

It reminded me of a comment attributed to U.S president John F. Kennedy: "Always be firm in your convictions but be prepared to change your mind".

Mayor Clugston said in a CBC interview: "When I first got elected to council I was a bit of a cowboy, and I was actually speaking against a lot of these projects. I was one of their biggest detractors."

Now, he says he has become their advocate and admits it is the right thing to do .. "the moral thing and it makes sense financially".

In 2008-2009 Medicine Hat had 1147 people using homeless shelters, and today 672, including 220 children, have been assisted by the program. They are optimistic that by next year they will be able to proclaim that the city has ended homelessness.
Candace, who went from couches to floors and back again, but now has a subsidized apartment told  CBC News “It means everything. I don't have to worry about where I'm going to sleep next … yeah, it's a place called home." 
Perhaps, the issue of homelessness does not rank very high on the list of priorities in Cranbrook, but let us remind ourselves that a great test of our humanity is how we treat the least fortunate in our city. My email is

Full disclosure: I am not now and never have been a member of the Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society; however, I did conduct a workshop for its members for which I was paid.

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