Why do I see encampments outside the shelter? Are you not allowing people inside?

We are not turning people away from the Shelter. For a variety of reasons, someone may be hesitant to come inside the Shelter. We are working to build relationships with clients to create trust, encourage them to come inside, and answer questions about what services we provide.

How long do people wait outside the shelter?

The Shelter is busiest during meal times, especially in the morning just after breakfast and in the evening just after supper. Wait times may be between 10-20 minutes. We appreciate that people are worried about our most vulnerable and we are continually looking at ways we can improve our intake process to be as efficient as possible.

Why are you denying services to people?

We have heard concerns that individuals waiting to access the shelter are being denied supplies and we want to be clear that we would not deny needed items to an individual if we were able to provide it i.e. if someone wanted a bottle of water but we had run out we would try to provide something of the same nature.

However, sometimes supplies are an opportunity to encourage individuals to access the shelter. If we provide supplies to clients inside as opposed to handing them out to people outside, clients can then access other basic needs, warm up, use the phone to contact family/friends, shower, or sleep, which they may not otherwise have done.

Why would someone not want to access the shelter? You must be doing something wrong

There are a variety of reasons why someone may not want to come into the shelter and if their concerns are ones we are able to address, we will. We are working to build relationships with clients to remove as many barriers as possible to their access of our programs and we are always looking at our processes to improve client-care.

We serve individuals who have significant trauma in their past and often require substantial supports to improve their circumstances, which is why we advocate for long-term solutions like supportive housing and harm reduction based recovery options not just emergency shelters.

What are your supports for Indigenous clients?

Alpha House served roughly 1,200 clients in Lethbridge this past year. Over 60% of our clients are Indigenous. All of our services (shelter, stabilization, isolation, housing) are available for Indigenous clients. Additionally, we have been working on creating more cultural connection opportunities (including Elder access and operating an Indigenous Recovery Coach Program) and we will continue to work towards greater offerings in this area.

Can you do something about the encampments outside the shelter? It isn’t safe.

The safety of those we serve along with the safety of our staff and the public are our top priority. Although we have outside staff, we are not able to monitor every activity that happens around the shelter which is why we encourage individuals to come inside where they can access services but also where we are able to more appropriately support them and provide a safe environment.

We are working on supporting some of the high frequency campers around the shelter to enter into our transitional housing program where they would have 24/7 supports and a space in which they can work on other aspects of their lives.

What programs does Alpha House provide?

At the 802 2A Ave N location, Alpha House operates a 24/7 emergency shelter that provides safe shelter, basic needs, and triage and assessment for referral to other programs/services. Also at that location we operate a Stabilization Centre, a residential program to support individuals to safely withdrawal from substances.

Out of a second location, Alpha House operates a COVID-19 Isolation and a Transitional Housing Program to support better options for unhoused individuals.

Do you ever deny services to someone?

On the infrequent occasion when someone is not allowed entry into the shelter due to a prior incident or an immediate risk of danger to staff or other clients, we work specifically with that individual to identify ways they can still access services. In the instance of extreme weather conditions, even temporary bans would be lifted so that individuals can access needed services.