Brian Baker, a formerly homeless military veteran, sits in his apartment at Cockrell House in Colwood, near Victoria, B.C. Baker helped build the suite himself. Tuesday October 5, 2010.
Credits: NIC HUME/QMI AGENCY
The infusion is part of a $1.9 million, two-year pilot project also targeting Victoria, London, Ont., and Toronto that hopes to end the wholly unacceptable reality of homelessness among Canada's ex-warriors, said federal Human Resources Minister Diane Finley.
"There's absolutely no excuse for our veterans to be without shelter or dignity," Finley said Tuesday amid war artifacts at the Military Museums in Calgary.
"Unfortunately, our veterans sometimes struggle to make the transition to civilian life, for whatever reason."
Five years ago, Calgary police Sgt. John Langford said he began noticing homeless veterans in Calgary and began seeking help for them, a cause taken up by other members of the force.
"Being an ex-military member, that really bothered me," he said.
Since then, attempts to end homelessness in Calgary by 2018 have included a provincially-funded apartment building in the city that's lodging for 15 veterans.
Langford said the pilot project to provide support programs in transitional housing, within a military culture, is a welcome one.
"We all agree we need a long-term solution ... I hope other cities see the value of using frontline workers," he said.
Authorities have identified and housed 28 homeless veterans in Calgary, though those on the street, said Langford, told him the numbers at one time were as high as 40.
Federal officials say it's difficult to tally the number of homeless veterans nationally.
But with problems like post-traumatic stress disorder and substance abuse coming to the fore among Canadian Afghan veterans, the problem could worsen, said Tim Richter, outgoing president of the Calgary Homeless Foundation.
"The long-term experience in Afghanistan might have echoes in our communities," said Richter.
If the pilot project proves a success, it'll be expanded to other Canadian cities, said Finley.
The approach originated in the U.K. and has shown significant promise, she added.