Best Practices and Lessons Learned in Conducting Counts of Homeless Persons in Calgary, 1992-2008

This report has been prepared for the Homelessness Partnering Strategy of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. It involved a retrospective analysis of the methodology used during nine consecutive Biennial Counts of Homeless Persons in Calgary. Each count was coordinated by The City of Calgary between 1992 and 2008 and held in mid-May of even-numbered years. Further insight was obtained through discussions with past count coordinators and the manager of the Division responsible for this work. The result is a synthesis of lessons learned and a checklist of best practices developed and used by The City of Calgary for point-in-time counts. A change in methods used for counts happened in 2008 – the ETHOS system was applied, which is the European Typology of Homelessness and Housing Exclusion. This is the standard used by European Union member states to report on homelessness and housing stress (FEANTSA, 2007). In the ETHOS typology, the housing situation of people who are absolutely homeless is broadly categorized as roofless or houseless. Similarly, accommodation used by people who are relatively homeless is broadly classified as either insecure or inadequate. These four ‘conceptual categories’ are each divided into ‘operational categories’ (e.g., people living rough; people living in emergency accommodation; people due to be released from institutions). Consultations was a second change in counts determination used with community facilities and agencies for 2006 and 2008. The Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) for Calgary will be applied in 2010. This method will be critical for monitoring and reporting on strategies to end homelessness. Checklists help to monitor the approach to be used and how it will be applied for consistency.

Additional information provided by Sharon Stroick.

Summary Credit:
Homelessness-Related Research Capacities in Alberta: A Comprehensive Environmental Scan, prepared by Dr. Katharina Kovacs Burns, MSc, MHSA, PhD and Dr. Solina Richter, PhD, RN for The Alberta Homelessness Research Consortium (2010)

Publication Date: 
Calgary, AB, Canada