News & Events

Service Provider – Lethbridge Shelter and Stabilization Centre

Shaundra Bruvall | October 12, 2022

ALPHA HOUSE STATEMENT

DATE: October 12, 2022

RE: Service Provider – Lethbridge Shelter and Stabilization Centre

 

Alpha House received notice that the Alberta Government will be transferring the funding grant for service provision of the Lethbridge Shelter and Stabilization programs to another operator. Alpha House will remain as operator until early January 2023  at which time the Blood Tribe Department of Health will assume responsibility for the Shelter and Stabilization programs.

We understand the decision supports a recognition that this work should be led by an Indigenous organization given the majority-Indigenous population accessing services. Alpha House supports the investment in Indigenous-led programming in the sector and we wish the Blood Tribe Department of Health every success as they move into operations in January.

Lethbridge is home to our staff, and our agency after many years of operations here, and we are exceptionally proud of our work providing the best client care possible for those we serve through the Shelter, the Stabilization Centre, COVID-19 isolation units, and Transitional Housing programs we have operated over the past three years. Client care will remain our top priority through these upcoming changes.

 

Inquiries:

Shaundra Bruvall

403 478 0387

shaundrab@alphahousecalgary.com


Path to Housing

Shaundra Bruvall | May 31, 2022

Pictured: 2 Addiction Support Workers at Alpha House's Transitional Housing program

 

Alpha House’s Transitional Housing program has been operating in Lethbridge for roughly 1 year. What began as a program to support unhoused individuals who had tested positive for, or were a close contact of, COVID-19 saw further success by providing housing supports to individuals with a history of chronic homelessness.

The program is delivered out of a hotel in Lethbridge, supporting up to 30 clients at a time to provide individualized goal setting and case management. Its previous success as an isolation program saw over 600 clients supported to maintain their isolation periods.

Now, the clients who utilize the program have different goals.

Those may include housing, finding and accessing a family doctor, obtaining prescriptions for needed medications, or applying to addiction treatment centers. Clients have a variety of needs and staff’s work is about engaging with each to understand their personal stories and support them with their unique goals.

The Transitional Housing program provides a bridge between services like the Lethbridge Shelter or Stabilization Centre to long-term housing programs that support clients towards greater stability.

“The history of homelessness and substance use for this group places them at risk for chronic health issues and premature age related disease. But it is incredible to see the improvements to someone’s physical and mental health when they are provided around the clock supports where staff can build rapport and trust on an individual level.”

– Kathy Christiansen, Executive Director Alpha House

 

Lethbridge’s supportive housing programs sit on a Housing Placement Committee. Groups like Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Lethbridge Police Services (LPS) are also in attendance. This allows each service to advocate for individuals they have interacted with to build a fuller picture of a client’s needs to ensure they are placed into the housing program that makes the most sense.

Oftentimes one of the biggest barriers for services in the homeless-serving sector is the resistance found in the community when the conversation of building supportive housing programs in their neighbourhoods starts. While we can understand that not everyone has the same level of comfort with those we serve, we also know the amount of work that goes into educating community members of the economic, community, and societal benefits of supportive housing programs is extensive.

“Alpha House is committed to responding to community issues, being transparent, and providing ongoing opportunities to connect about concerns but besides the business rounds and follow-ups we did when we first started at the hotel, no one even seems to know we’re operating here.”

– Taylor Holtorf, Team Lead, Transitional Housing, Alpha House

The ultimate question, of course, is whether community members would rather have an individual in a stable setting where their mental health and other basic needs are met OR have that same person unsupported, on the street, confused, with unmet mental health needs doing what they need to do to survive.

For anyone skeptical of the successes of supportive housing, there is no shortage of examples of how they positively impact, not just the individual who benefits from the supports but, public systems and communities as a whole.

Alpha House

Client K was frequently connected with Lethbridge Police Services when he stayed at the Lethbridge Shelter, often acting in such a way that necessitated police response, sometimes as often as once or twice a day. K has been at Alpha House’s Transitional Housing program for 3 weeks and police response has not been necessary even once.

Client B suffered terrible burns to his entire body after an accident in his encampment. While staying at the Lethbridge shelter he was unable to properly take care of his wounds but once admitted to the program, B was able to connect with Home Care and a team of nurses came multiple times per week to change the dressings on his burns. B was discharged from the program into a permanent-supportive housing program where he is continuing his journey towards reconnecting with his children and family.

The real challenge right now is achieving economies of scale. With small programs, which is almost exclusively what currently exists in Lethbridge, the cost per participant, while still less than the cost per individual at an Emergency Shelter, in a hospital bed, or jail cell, is higher than it needs to be.

With Alpha House’s Transitional Housing Program closing today due to a lack of funding, there is now one fewer option for individuals struggling with homelessness and in need of supports to move towards stability. Expansion of these programs or the building of new ones will be crucial to supporting better outcomes for social issues in the city.

-END-

Written by Shaundra Bruvall
Communications Manager, Alpha House Society
Inquiries: info@alphahouselethbridge.com

Downtown Clean Sweep Program

Shaundra Bruvall | March 3, 2022

The Downtown Clean Sweep Program

 

Lethbridge’s Clean Sweep Program (CSP) is currently overseen by the Downtown Business Revitalization Zone (BRZ) but it got its start more than 20 years ago.

CSP began as the Employment Rejuvenation Program, or ERP. Initially created by the Lethbridge Shelter and Resource Center, the ERP transitioned to the CSP under new partnerships with the City of Lethbridge’s Heart of Our City Committee, the Shelter, and the Downtown BRZ.

CSP’s mandate is to keep the 27-block area of downtown Lethbridge clean as it relates to garbage, needles and needle debris, graffiti, and other minor safety and aesthetic elements. CSP stipend volunteers are out on weekday mornings from 6 am to 8 am before businesses open to ensure the downtown area is ready and clean for the day, including by raking leaves or shoveling snow.

There are three services provided under the umbrella of the Clean Sweep Program.

  1. Hot-Spotting
  • CSP stipend volunteers travel to different parts of the city to “sweep” for needles and needle debris.
  1. Needle Debris Hotline
  • Provides a dedicated number that citizens can call when they find needle debris requiring disposal
  1. Shelter Service
  • Supports keeping the space around the Shelter (and mobile Overdose Prevention Site operated by Alberta Health Services) clean from the hazards of needles and needle debris

 

Scott Ritter, Clean Sweep Program Manager, has been with the program for a year. His background as a Safety Officer and passion for CSP tells you much about Scott’s priorities – he is profoundly committed to keeping others safe.

The benefits of the program reach farther than a clean downtown. The program helps provide participants who struggle with chronic homelessness, mental health, and addiction the tools necessary to become employable and re-enter the workforce. Participants are able to form connections to help them gain meaningful mentorship and support.

Says the BRZ, “The CSP is a win-win program. Not only does CSP provide a clean and safe downtown core, it also provides stability and meaning for the participants. They learn to take pride in their work and to see the value in themselves and others.”

Businesses in the downtown are likewise happy to extoll the benefits of the program. All the businesses surveyed said they were “grateful” for CSP’s services suggesting, “our downtown would be a mess if it weren’t for the daily hard work by the CSP foremen and crews.”

If you find a needle, please call the Needle Pickup Hotline: 403-332-0722


About Alpha House – For Election Candidates

Shaundra Bruvall | September 16, 2021

WELCOME

Thank you for your interest in Alpha House and our work with vulnerable individuals in southern Alberta. We are a trusted non-profit agency that provides safe and caring environments for individuals whose lives are affected by alcohol and other substance dependencies. We currently operate in Calgary and Lethbridge.

Originally established in 1981, Alpha House has a long history of innovating and evolving to meet the changing needs of our clients, the communities where we operate, and the increasing complexities of homelessness and drug use.

Today, we partner with all levels of government, community first responders, and other agencies to help address key social issues such as the opioid crisis, the growing need for supportive housing for vulnerable Albertans, mental health and addiction services, and evidence-based, harm reduction policies such as safe consumption sites.

 

THE FACTS

Permanent-Supportive Housing (PSH)

  • PSH reduces the use of publicly funded crisis services, including jails, hospitalizations, and emergency departments
  • A study of HF programs in Alberta published in 2020 reported cost savings of $1.17 to $2.84 for every dollar invested in housing first

Opioid Crisis

  • A study of 7 SCS programs in Canada found evidence of cost savings through Reduced disease transmission
  • Prevention of overdose deaths (reduced cost of EMS/medical system)

 

HOW OUR PROGRAMS HELP ALBERTANS

Our programs and services make up a continuum of care, which clients can enter at any point, based on their needs. Our services include:

 

SHELTER

Short-term, crisis-oriented emergency shelter 24/7 for Albertans under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

*CALGARY AND LETHBRIDGE

 

DETOX/STABILIZATION/TRANSITIONAL HOUSING

Residential care for clients to safely withdrawal from drugs in a socially or medically supportive environment and a temporary residential care program for clients to transition safely into housing or drug treatment facilities/programs.

*CALGARY AND LETHBRIDGE

 

HOUSING

Community and permanent-supportive housing programs to ensure housing stability and individualized supports for over 300 individuals.

*CALGARY

 

OUTREACH

Mobile response teams for individuals on the streets or in camps to meet clients where they are at, support recovery goals, and provide immediate supports ultimately reducing the impact of  intoxication  and homelessness on the broader community and public systems.

*CALGARY AND LETHBRIDGE

 

OUR STRATEGIC PRIORITIES AND RESPONSES

The needs of those we serve and the communities we are part of are constantly changing. New, unique responses are required more urgently as a result of an increasingly toxic drug supply, increased uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the housing crisis across Canada. Alpha House continues to evolve our programs and partnerships to help meet these needs, including:

  • Expanding of our Encampment and DOAP Transit teams to increase services to vulnerable clients
  • Building stronger partnerships with Calgary Police Services, Calgary Community Standards (Bylaw), and Calgary Transit as well as first responders for increased community-based supports including the introduction of the new DOAP Indigenous Team in October 2021
  • Advocating for more permanent-supportive housing, increased harm-reduction supports such as naloxone and Engaging Vulnerable Persons training for community members, increased access to stabilization and detox facilities and engagement with businesses around responsible, compassionate action for individuals experiencing homelessness

 

WORKING TOGETHER WITH GOVERNMENT AND COMMUNITY

Our work is a direct intersection of homelessness and addiction and mental health. It requires a robust and compassionate community response with extensive supports and programs. Many of the people we serve have experienced significant trauma throughout their life and the resulting coping mechanisms such as alcohol and drug use often lead to increased instability and a greater need for wrap around supports.

Alpha House operates from a Housing First perspective meaning individuals are better able to work on other aspects of their lives if they have shelter security and a place to call home.

Based on over three decades of frontline experience, we know that the best response to helping vulnerable adults is to bring together the collaborative resources, expertise and support from local residents and businesses, as well as key partners and all levels of government. Through a unified, holistic approach, we can support vulnerable Albertans to meet them where they are at and help them find greater stability and wellness in their lives.

To learn more about our work and the latest Alpha House news, follow us on social media.

Facebook alphahouselethbridge   

Twitter      alphahouseyql                                                                                                                         

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Re-Zoning Application Update

Shaundra Bruvall | August 9, 2021

 

Update from August 20, 2021

At this time, Alpha House will not be moving forward with our re-zoning application to request a bylaw change at our facility at 802 2A Ave SE.

A few weeks ago, we shared that we were amending our application to put on hold:

  1. A bylaw request to support integration of the current mobile Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) into the Shelter facility
  2. A bylaw request to support shelter space that would be lost due to the OPS moving indoors.

It was our intention to move forward with:

  • requesting a bylaw change to support adding medical services to our current stabilization program.

However, we have withdrawn our application in its entirety as of today due to circumstances out of our control. As a result, there will be no public hearing on this issue on 24 August 2021.

We are extremely disappointed to not be able to move forward with re-zoning to support a medical detox program for the City of Lethbridge. Due to a loss of funding for this project, we are unable to proceed.

It is our hope to continue engaging in the dialogue around social service provision in the city as we believe collaboration will be key to creating safe, inclusive communities for everyone.

We appreciate the community support we have received thus far and will continue to support the city’s most vulnerable through our Emergency Shelter and other programs.

 

**********************************************************************************************************

Update from August 9, 2021

Alpha House originally submitted a re-zoning application that included three elements.

  1. A bylaw change to support integrating the current mobile Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) into the Shelter facility to provide increased community safety and continuity of services
  2. A bylaw change to support the shelter space that would be lost if the OPS was moved into the Shelter
  3. A bylaw change to support adding medical services to our current stabilization program

We have worked with community members, neighbours, and other stakeholders over the past few months to explain our reasoning for re-zoning and to address questions.

Based on community feedback, as well as the creation of the Social Services Integration Group (SSIG), we have requested an amendment to our re-zoning application to ensure appropriate discussion can continue around the Lethbridge community’s needs. We are happy to be flexible with our re-zoning ask to ensure we are finding the best solutions for vulnerable Albertans and the best locations for social services.

The amendment we have requested for our application focuses solely on a bylaw change to support adding medical services to our current stabilization centre. A medically supported detox will provide an additional recovery option to individuals struggling with addiction. 

Alpha House has already been awarded funding to offer medical supports through our current stabilization program and we would not want Lethbridge to miss out on this significant provincial investment. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at info@alphahouselethbridge.com

If you would like to learn more about our current programs – you can read more about our services here 


Virtual Tour and Open House June 2021

Shaundra Bruvall | June 22, 2021

Alpha House hosted a Virtual Tour and Open House on Thursday June 17, 2021 as part of a re-zoning application process we are currently pursuing for the property at 802 2A Ave N Lethbridge. You can learn more about the re-zoning process at www.alphahouselethbridge.com/the-road-to-rezoning/.

The stakeholders involved in the Open House include businesses and organizations within a 100m radius around the Lethbridge Shelter and Stabilization Centre but if any community members are interested in learning more, we have recorded the session here and you can see the presentation here: Re-Zoning Lethbridge Shelter FINAL

A tour of our Lethbridge facility can be found here.


The Road to Re-Zoning

Shaundra Bruvall |

PLEASE NOTE: WE HAVE MADE ADJUSTMENTS TO OUR RE-ZONING ASK BASED ON COMMUNITY FEEDBACK AND THE CREATION OF THE SOCIAL SERVICES INTEGRATION GROUP (SSIG). WE HAVE REQUESTED AN AMENDMENT TO FOCUS SOLELY ON STRONGER RECOVERY OPTIONS THROUGH A MEDICAL DETOX PROGRAM. PLEASE GO HERE TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS UPDATE.

 

Alpha House Society is currently in the process of pursuing a rezoning for the property at 802 2A Avenue North. The purpose of the re-zoning is to clarify use descriptions and definitions in order to follow by-law requirements as we continue to respond to social issues such as homelessness and addiction in Lethbridge. Below is more information about what re-zoning means and why we are undertaking this project.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Projects/Proposals

  1. What is a rezoning? [This description is provided by the City of Lethbridge]

A rezoning, also referred to as Land Use Bylaw Amendment, occurs when a landowner wants to change what activities or use of land is allowed on their property with the current zoning. Changes to a property’s zoning may include different land uses or activities, more dwelling units, or a new development and/or building. At a public hearing, anyone has the ability to make comments regarding the proposal to City Council who ultimately decides if the rezoning is a   good idea.

  1. Why are you pursuing a rezoning?

Alpha House currently operates a 24/7 Emergency Shelter and Stabilization Centre out of the building at 802 2A Ave N Lethbridge. A mobile Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) is operated on the street outside the building by Alberta Health. The re-zoning process will not change the services provided at this location but will allow Alpha House to better meet the needs of the population we already serve with more beds, greater medical supports, and a higher quality space. In addition, moving the OPS inside the Shelter facility will provide greater stability and accessibility to services for clients and greater overall security for the community.

We will be pursuing the following re-zoning definition: Substance Use and Recovery Services (Federally and/or Provincially-regulated), defined as: A Development providing federally and/or provincially-approved medical services which may include services such as an overdose prevention site, medical detox, intox beds and services, and sobering and withdrawal management facilities. This use is regulated by the federal and/or provincial government.

  1. Who owns the property?

The City of Lethbridge owns the property at 802 2A Ave N

  1. Will any building improvements or changes be made?

There will be no structural changes to the building but our proposal does include a possible shift of traffic flow to utilize the back entrance and area of the property in a manner that offers higher quality client care and staff safety.

  1. Where will parking be provided?

Apart from the removal of the mobile OPS following the re-zoning, which would increase parking options on the main street, there are no plans to change the parking lot or street parking.

  1. Who should I contact if I have questions about the project?

Please contact Kathy Christiansen at kathy@alphahouselethbridge.com or Nicole Callaghan at nicole@alphahouselethbridge.com if you have questions related to this project.  Additionally, Alpha House hosted a Virtual Open House on June 17th and the recording of that presentation is available on our website.

 

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Rezoning Process

  1. What is a rezoning? [This description is provided by the City of Lethbridge]

A rezoning, also referred to as Land Use Bylaw Amendment, occurs when a landowner wants to change what activities or use of land is allowed on their property with the current zoning. Changes to a property’s zoning may include different land uses or activities, more dwelling units, or a new development and/or building. At a public hearing, anyone has the ability to make comments regarding the proposal to City Council who ultimately decides if the rezoning is a good idea.

  1. How long is the rezoning process?

Once an application is made, the rezoning process is two to three months long on average.

  1. Who makes a decision on the rezoning?

City Council is the decision maker for rezonings. This decision is made following a public hearing.

  1. What are the steps in the rezoning process?
  • Initial consultation with the City
  • FAQ letter sent to neighbouring land owners (current step)
  • Application submitted
  • Application notification letter sent to neighbours
  • Internal circulation to City departments
  • Rezoning introduction to City Council – First reading
  • Public hearing notification sent to neighbouring land owners
  • Rezoning presentations to City Council – Public hearing
  • Rezoning decision made by City Council – Second and third readings

 

  1. When and how is the public updated throughout the process?

Property owners within 60 m are contacted directly by the City of Lethbridge two times throughout the process via mail:

  1. Notice of Application Submission Letter when the rezoning application is submitted to the City
  1. Notice of Public Hearing Letter when Council gives the rezoning bylaw first reading and the public hearing is scheduled (usually for 4 weeks after the first reading). The date for the public hearing will also be advertised on the City’s website at https://www.lethbridge.ca/City-Government/public-hearing-notices/Pages/Public-Hearings.aspx.

 

  1. Why is the notification distance 60 metres?

Section 692 of the Municipal Government Act requires that written notice be provided to owners of adjacent land. This is defined in the City’s Land Use Bylaw as a radius of 60 m from the parcel being rezoned.

  1. How may I provide my feedback on this rezoning proposal?

The Notice of Public Hearing Letter will outline the ways you may share your feedback with City Council in person, via email, via phone call, or through the City’s website. This information can also be found on the City’s website at: https://www.lethbridge.ca/City-Government/public-hearing-notices/Pages/Public-Hearings.aspx.

 Who should I contact if I have questions about the rezoning process?

Contact the community planner listed below. A copy of the City’s Land Use Bylaw can be accessed on the City’s website at: https://www.lethbridge.ca/Doing-Business/Planning-Development/Development/Pages/Land-Use-Bylaw-6300.aspx

Shelagh Graham; Community Planner

Planning and Development – City of Lethbridge; 910 – 4th Avenue South Lethbridge, Alberta T1J 0P6

Phone: 403-359-6530; Email: shelagh.graham@lethbridge.ca