The Story of Inclusio – Accessible Housing (Calgary)

Submitted by Accessible Housing

Accessible Housing is a non-profit organisation and registered charity, which helps open doors to homes that are both accessible and affordable for people with limited mobility, a growing population with unmet needs in the province of Alberta. Recognising a need in the community for increased mobility-restricted and cost-effective housing, the Accessible Housing Society undertook the development a 45-suite home known as Inclusio.

Inclusio is located in the community of Capitol Hill in Calgary, Alberta. It is the first building of its kind designed to serve those with limited mobility not only in Calgary, but also within the province of Alberta. Inclusio features 45 studio suites, shared common living spaces and laundry rooms available on each floor, a central dining room (designed to offer three meals per day, seven days per week), and wellness room (complete with a therapeutic tub). Residents also have access to an enclosed parking garage (with parking stalls wide enough to accommodate specialised vehicles), as well as on-site administration, maintenance and housekeeping services.

Through the initial design, development and operation of Inclusio, Accessible Housing gained a great deal of knowledge about not only construction design and development but also additionally, how the services provided integrate in the most useful way for residents within the building design. Through a generous grant provided by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, Accessible Housing has been able to gather this learned information and share the story of Inclusio with many stakeholders. 

Further understanding of the needs that less than 3% of affordable housing units in Calgary are accessible; 58% of adults with disabilities in Calgary have incomes under $30,000 per year provides opportunity to reach out to government and other agency stakeholders to create plans for strategy and collaboration to fill a greater and increasing need.

 

The benefits realised through the building of Inclusio have been significant. Not only for residents but family members as well as staff working with residents each day.

While supportive living is not a new concept in the realm of housing the uniqueness of Inclusio is, as it was purpose built to support residents with limited mobility.

The success of Inclusio can be summed up best by comments shared from residents:

  • “Allows us to go out into the community and feel safe and comfortable”
  • “The supports we received offer us the ability to contribute to society (working/volunteering) and to offer what you can back”
  • “Has given me a sense of hope, purpose and fulfillment”
  • “Has helped reduce the feelings of uncertainty you feel when disabled”
  • “My mom sleeps at night now not being worried to get a call that I have fallen and need help”
  • “Accessible is not in the business of building places, they are in the business of saving lives”
  • “I have so much I want to do and I feel like I can do it now!”
  • “I was very isolated and depressed, now I have started to live”
  • “My mom took a vacation for the first time in 10 years”

 

The ability for Accessible Housing to tell the story of Inclusio and share learnings will continue long into the future thanks again to the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF). Together, we are creating opportunity that empowers people, and emphasises the importance of a more accessible Alberta.

To learn more about the important work Accessible Housing is doing visit our website www.accessiblehousing.ca.

Pedesting app is helping Calgarians find the easiest, safest, most accessible routes

Submitted by Bricolage Calgary

The Pedesting app is navigation software that provides the easiest, safest and most accessible pedestrian routes through the City of Calgary for various mobility types, including wheelchair users, strollers, and walkers.

The software employs cutting edge data collection methods and recognizes the different mobility requirements of the user. In this way Pedesting can enable all pedestrians to find authoritative directions from point A to point B anywhere in the city. Further, once at the location, Pedesting is able to assist with navigating indoors to find the ultimate destination. We designed the Pedesting app to understand routes through spaces that are complex, such as Calgary’s +15 system or a university campus. Pedesting will establish routes that are easily navigable by anyone, anywhere: from a smart device at home or a phone on the go.

The Pedesting app was created to help people who feel that the urban environment is full of barriers and  challenging to navigate; Pedesting will enable more involvement in society by people who want to contribute but feel isolated. Pedesting is more than an app: it is a community of people who see their respective city as a place for everyone to come together and contribute. The Pedesting community is unified by the belief that a society is best served when everyone is represented, when all citizens are accounted for and able to partake.

Pedesting was formally introduced to the citizens of Calgary through a series of showcases in the fall of 2019 and into the early months of 2020. These showcases were made possible by a generous grant from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF). At the showcases the Pedesting app was presented to a variety of groups; the Pedesting team fielded questions and actively enrolled beta testers for the app as to assist with the ongoing software development.

Photo Credit: Laura Colpitts Photography
Showcase at Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC)

The showcases were tailored to address the different groups at each event: the City of Calgary was represented by the Mayor, several Councillors, Calgary Economic Development, Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC), Facilities Management, Roads, Transportation, Calgary Tourism and other municipal employees from a variety of departments; other showcases targeted business and industry, the real estate community, the general public and the disabled community. A final showcase was held in January 2020 at Civic Tech and included the technology community. The showcases were important and successful. Pedesting is now a part of the public conversation in Calgary and many alliances and potential working relationships were formed as a result. The events also enabled the Pedesting team to actively recruit a variety of guest bloggers, as well as beta testers to assist us as we move forward to the next iteration of the app.

This important public introduction of the Pedesting app was only possible due to the funding from AREF. The Pedesting team was able to provide a professional event in safe and public venues such as the New Central Public Library and  the CMLC event space at the St. Louis Hotel. We were able to employ closed captioning and ASL interpreters for persons with hearing limitations as well as a modest variety of sandwiches or baked goods. The following are some pictures from the respective showcases:

We would like to express our appreciation to AREF for helping Pedesting to present the culmination of three years of research and software development. It was a rewarding experience for our team and we were proud to formally introduce the Pedesting app to the leaders, early adopters and citizens of Calgary.

For more information about the Pedesting™ app and to receive news and updates, please visit our website or follow us on social media (@pedesting)

Resiliency through Industry Partnerships

2017-2018 Annual Report Highlight

Highbanks provides subsidized, safe and affordable housing along with some other supports for 11 young families in Calgary. With funding from AREF, Highbanks is hiring real estate consultants to explore and develop creative partnerships with landlords, property owners, builders and developers. The aim is to work together to come up with creative ways to provide affordable housing for young single mothers, fill vacancies in market rental housing and build resiliency in the community.

“We are really excited to start thinking about how we might address the huge need. The money from AREF allows us to think in non-traditional ways about how we might be able to expand our reach,” says Krista Flint, the executive director at Highbanks. “We are really keen to break down the paradigm of ‘We need a capital campaign and we need to build something else,’ because there are so many wildly innovative models for spaces for social good and we’re really excited to lead that thinking in our sector.”

Highbanks helps young mothers and their children who are homeless, at risk of being homeless or leaving profoundly traumatic situations. “We provide a housing first model with a focus on education and everything we do is sensitive to the deep trauma most of our girls have experienced,” she says. The mothers, many of whom haven’t finished high school, are required to go to school full time. Over the last 15 years, many of the young women that Highbanks has helped have gone on to get post-secondary diplomas or degrees.

Highbanks puts on community events and provides workshops and classes on parenting, coping and stress strategies, financial literacy, nutrition and life skills. A registered social worker refers women to other agencies and supports. It costs about $35,000 a year to help each family— an investment which Highbanks estimates saves taxpayers about $650,000 in publically-funded social services costs.

“We work very closely with organizations concerned with homelessness in Calgary. At any given time, we have about 30 young moms on our waiting list seeking help,” Flint says. “About 97 per cent of the young women who leave us go on to pay market rent and in some wonderful cases, own their own home.

Read the Alberta Real Estate Foundation’s full 2017-2018 Annual Report.

Thirty-Five sites will get naked during Doors Open Calgary

SEPTEMBER 5, 2012 – Many of Calgary’s most culturally and historically significant buildings are going to bare it all during Doors Open YYC – DO YYC Naked on September 29 and 30, 2012.

For these two days only, buildings in all quadrants of the city are opening their doors – free of charge – to the public and providing special revealing tours and experiences designed specifically for DO YYC Naked. No matter where you live, you’ll be able to find something close-by and memorable to experience. In some places, the sites are close enough together that you’ll be able to take in a few in a single day.

“This year is the perfect time to take a great event like Doors Open and do it in a way that is pure Calgary energy,” says board member for Doors Open YYC, Jeff Hessel of Tourism Calgary.

Arts lovers will find inspiration in sites like the National Music Centre, King Edward School, Atlantic Avenue Art Block and the EPCOR CENTRE for the Performing Arts.
History buffs will love sharing the experiences and stories of the Colonel Walker House, Deane House, Fort Calgary and will even get a chance to view rarely shared archives at the Lougheed House.

Sports enthusiasts will have a hard time choosing between taking in a guided behind-the-scenes tour of the Olympic Oval or getting behind the scenes at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Kids will love to visit the Oliver Bowen LRV Facility where they can ride a C-Train car as it goes through the wash, the Nat Christie Centre where they can learn about the costumes of the Alberta Ballet and The Military Museums for the always loud and impressive cannon demonstrations.

For people who love to know how things work, there are special tours of the City of Calgary Victoria Park Bus Maintenance Facility and the Traffic Management Centre.
Environmentally minded Calgarians will be awed and inspired by tours of The City of Calgary Water Centre and the Pine Creek Wastewater Treatment Centre as well as the Genesis Centre of Community Wellness and the Energy Environment Experiential Learning building at the University of Calgary.

“As you can see, a lot of effort went into putting together an event that would have something for everyone and would showcase the architecture, culture, heritage and inner workings of our unique city” explains Joni Carroll, Doors Open YYC program manager.

Doors Open YYC will show you Calgary like you’ve never seen it before. For the full list of Doors Open YYC sites with details about accessibility, programming and a map to help visitors get the most out of the weekend, visit doyycnaked.com

You can see a full listing of the sites by going here.