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Real impact of recession still to come: Calgary Homeless Foundation


As the prime minister promises EI benefits will go to those who need it most, the Calgary Homeless Foundation is warning the city isn’t yet seeing the full impact of the economic downturn.

While shelter numbers were down this past winter, those figures are deceiving.

Kevin McNichol, Vice-President of Strategy with the Calgary Homeless Foundation, says there are a number of factors at play here: lower rental rates, and more people leaving the province to seek work.

Other services, however, have been busy.

“A dramatic increase in the need for food banks, and increased foreclosures, those types of things,” he said.

The warm winter meant some chose to sleep on the streets rather than seek help, and the foundation is keeping an eye on the weather this spring.

“We can often have some very miserable weeks there, you know March through May, where it can be very wet and damp,” he said. “They’ll be forced indoors because the inclement weather is just not tolerable, or they need to come in and get warm.”

McNichol says non-profits usually run a year behind where the economy is, and the months ahead will be challenging.

“Some of these agencies certainly are going to have a tougher time raising philanthropic dollars in particular, and that will impact their ability to provide service, and I think that’s something we should watch for,” he said.

He says the United Way campaign in September, will be real barometer of who is in need of shelter, and who is able to give.

He believes more people will fall into homelessness if the recession continues for another six to 10 months.