Calgary homeless shelters reaching capacity

The cold weather is forcing many of the city's most vulnerable into homeless shelters, which are already running at full capacity.

Leonard Hofer is one person who’s feeling the effects of the demand. He wasn't allowed at the Calgary Drop In Centre last night, so he found his own place to sleep.

"I stayed in a washroom," he said, adding it was located at a mall.

Louise Gallagher, with the Calgary Homeless Foundation, says when shelters reach capacity and temperatures dip, it poses a risk for people who are homeless.

"When you're out there and you're not dressed for it or if you're inebriated, you really don’t have a sense of what the cold is doing to your body and often one of the biggest challenges at this time of year is frostbite, and people will have frostbite with their fingers and toes,” Gallagher explained.

But there is help on the way. Funding from the provincial government will put 200 new beds in the city's four main shelters.

"It's difficult in Calgary because there isn't a lot of housing that's accessible,” said Kathy Christiansen, with Alpha House. “Rent is not always achievable for people who are struggling with poverty so, there's a number of things the community is rallying and working on that."

This time of the year also means the Downtown Outreach Addictions Partnership team is kept busy. It handles about 1,500 calls every month.

"A lot of our clients have experienced trauma, this is a depressing time of year when they're not connected to family, so they will tend to be a lot more depressed and a lot more vulnerable," Katelyn Lucas, with DOAP said.

The latest statistics indicate that 3,500 people are homeless in Calgary.

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