Edmonton’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness: Year 4 Updates Announced

Bissell Centre hosted a media conference on Thursday, April 25th where Year 4 updates were released by The Edmonton Homeless Commission regarding Edmonton’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness. Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel, Homeless Commission Chair Hal Danchilla, and Homeward Trust CEO Susan McGee announced the achievements that show real progress is being made towards their goals.
Mayor Mandel congratulated all the partners involved with the effort to end homelessness in Edmonton but stressed that there is still work to be done to house the over 2,100 people that are still homeless in the city.

Here are some of the Year 4 updates:

  • 2,325 Edmontonians previously homeless now have a home.
  • 1,664 permanent homes have been secured for the 2,325 homeless with the vast majority of these homes being private rental market in buildings across the city.
  • The October 2012 Homeless Count found 2,147 homeless Edmontonians, which is 29% fewer than the 2008 count.

The Edmonton Homeless Commission recognizes that there are challenges ahead moving into Year 5 of the plan to end homelessness. Some of the challenges outlined are:

  • The need for capital funding to build permanent supportive housing for people with intensive needs.
  • The tightening of the rental market in Edmonton as vacancy rates drop and rents rise.
  • Limited space for new clients due to The Housing First teams working at full capacity.
  • A greater focus is needed on prevention to reduce the numbers of people falling in to homelessness.

To learn more about The City of Edmonton’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness or the Year 4 Update, please visit http://homelesscommission.org or call Hal Danchilla, Chair, Edmonton Homeless Commission at 780.975.4462.

Tamarack’s Communities Collaborating Institute is Coming to Edmonton

As a community organization that is working collaboratively, we want you to know about an exciting learning opportunity that we at Bissell Centre are helping to bring to Edmonton this Fall.  We are working with the Tamarack Institute to sponsor the 2013 Communities Collaborating Institute: Accelerating Impact, which is being held October 7th – 11th, 2013.

Tamarack’s Communities Collaborating Institute is Canada’s signature, learning event for collective impact professionals.  The 2013 CCI: Accelerating Impact is geared specifically for those wanting to strengthen their capacity to create large-scale, collective impact in communities – linked to provincial/state or national agendas. I have attended two CCIs myself and highly recommend you consider attending.

Join Adam Kahane, Tom Kelly, Stephen Huddart, Ratna Omidvar, Catherine Twinn, Liz Weaver, Mark Cabaj, and me for this unprecedented leadership event.  Inspired by the insights and perspectives of celebrated thought-leaders, it is an opportunity to rejuvenate and strengthen your ability to engage and mobilize across sectors to advance a common community agenda for transformation.  Learn more about the event’s evolving list of Thought-Leaders online here.

Registration officially opens today, Tuesday March 19th 2013.  This event has been over-subscribed each of the past six years and we expect the same this year in Edmonton, Alberta.

  • Date: October 7 – 11, 2013
  • Location: Edmonton, Alberta
  • Venue: Radisson Edmonton South Hotel
  • More information & registration: www.tamarackcommunity.ca

Change leaders need both ideas and techniques.  The 2013 CCI: Accelerating Impact promises to be a dynamic peer learning opportunity with a special focus on transformative techniques for uniting diverse opinions into a common agenda for social change. These include: Scenario Planning, Change Labs, Working Effectively with Complexity, Developmental Evaluation, Collaborative Governance Community Conversations and more.

Learn how you and your organization can benefit from this amazing learning opportunity.  Special reduced rates are available for two or more participants from a community, organization or network who agree to attend together.

I hope to see you at the 2013 CCI this Fall in Edmonton.

Mark Holmgren, CEO
Bissell Centre

Our Strategic Touchstone, 2012-2017

Bissell Centre’s long-term strategy is its vision, which is to eliminate poverty in our community.  For many, such a vision might be brushed off as “pie in the sky” ambition or perhaps as an expression of hope by caring, yet unrealistic, people.  Will poverty ever become eradicated from our community? Likely not, but what is the alternative vision then?
Shall we just talk about decreasing the incidence of poverty, set goals to lower the number of people living in poverty by 10%, 20% or some other “doable” but arbitrary number? Would we celebrate success knowing such goals, in effect, suggest we are concerned with a minority of those who are poor?  Would we really be satisfied if our efforts only helped one in ten?

Bissell Centre’s decision to adopt this vision in 2011 is about a call to action for our organization to lead and act in ways that engage governments, businesses, labor, funders, associations, other non-profits, and individuals from all walks of life to come together to create and sustain the range and depth of change required to help people avoid or rise up out of poverty.

Our vision is also a call to change our own organization, where required, to ensure everything we do is vision-focused, whether in the direct delivery of our various programs, the partnerships we undertake across sectors, our relationships with funders and donors, or how we behave in community. 

Our vision is a calling to focus our attention not only on traditional human service programs but also on actions that promote social justice, advocate for basic human rights, and enlist others to join together to build a stronger, more connected community. A community that is economically and socially viable for all citizens; a community that takes responsibility for each hungry child, each homeless person, each victim of abuse and violence; a community that is not willing to accept poverty and homelessness as tolerable or defensible.

Bissell Centre is not alone in this vision.  Our intent is aligned with the social justice emphasis of our United Church founders (not to mention the faith community in general), with governments’ plans and actions to eliminate homelessness, with the changing emphasis of funders like United Way, with the corporate social responsibility strategies of businesses, and with the hundreds of donors who look to us for leadership in making life better for the poor and disenfranchised. We see other non-profit organizations sharing in this vision, too, many of whom we already partner with, and even more that we need to reach out to and explore new and better ways of working together.

There will be no chance of achieving our vision and little chance of making significant progress if our community continues to work in disparate and fragmented ways. Our mission stresses “working with others.”

We will see more failures than successes if our strategies attempt to lay blame and ostracize others for the problems in our communities.  The case to change a social policy, a program or service, or how an organization is structured or funded does not need to be discussed or enacted within a context of culpability for what’s not working, but rather should be addressed around an alignment of common intent and goodwill.

THE CALL TO ACTION
At Bissell Centre, we believe in the power of caring. We believe that individuals can make a difference in their own lives and in our community. To achieve our vision, it must become the vision of many and that is at the heart of the work ahead: to partner with others to build, nurture, and sustain a movement to end poverty and homelessness in our community.

The vision to eliminate poverty necessarily means Bissell Centre will have to undertake numerous roles in our community – leader, participant, advocate, partner, mentor, learner, innovator, and risk taker.  It also means that such an ambitious vision demands an equally ambitious, super ordinate strategy, which is this: to be a leader in the development of a community-wide movement to eliminate poverty and homelessness.

Such a strategy is not only about achieving BIG CHANGE in our community, it also calls our own organization to undergo significant change in how we see and live our role in community. While we continue to provide a range and depth of services to those most vulnerable in our community, we must become a catalyst for community synergy and action to overcome poverty and homelessness.

Please take a bit of time to view our strategic intent over the next five years. If you have any questions, ask us. If you want to help, join us. There is a whole lot to do.