Erica's story

She walks past you on your way to work and sits beside you on the bus ride home. She is someone’s friend and someone’s daughter, but more importantly she is someone.

After living on the streets of Calgary for more than a year, Erica* was referred to the YWCA Winter Emergency Response program in November. Each night, Erica found herself sleeping next to an average of 45 women who like her, were looking for a warm place to sleep. 

Erica lost her business during the economic downturn and with it, her ability to house herself. She worked hard to get back on her feet but living in Calgary is difficult.

Because of this challenge Erica would haul her belongings to the YWCA each night and pray that she would find hope again. Each night, she would sit and watch passerby’s, often feeling envious of their “normal life”. In the spring, Erica was told she would be moving into the YWCA Mary Dover House transitional housing program. Upon learning about her spot in a YWCA transitional housing program, Erica expressed her joy in having a quiet space of her own once again. 

A few short months after transitioning into YWCA Mary Dover House, with the help of YWCA staff and community partners, Erica found permanent housing in the community. Following months of sleeping on cots and living with strangers, Erica finally has a home of her own. She has a place to put her clothes, a private kitchen to cook her meals and a quiet place to sleep.   

Erica is once again supporting herself and looking forward to new ideas and opportunities. She is making plans to open her own business again and each day she is feeling more confident and optimistic for a thriving future. 


Women become homeless for many reasons. Some have lost their jobs, others are fleeing violent, unhealthy relationships or have health breakdowns. Many women also struggle with substance abuse or mental health issues. All have one thing in common; they are vulnerable and need a safe, warm and compassionate place to land.

The YWCA WERP program has not only been able to provide shelter for an average of 45 women per night, but have also rehoused several women into the YWCA Mary Dover House supportive housing or Community-based housing programs.

WERP, now in its fifth winter, operates nightly from November to April. With your support, we can continue helping women like Erica. By removing barriers that keep women struggling, we can provide hope-filled opportunities that bring safer futures.

Let’s work together to make our city sensitive and responsive to the needs of women. You can help the YWCA KEEP A ROOF OVER THEIR HEADS® . Register to participate or donate today and make a difference in the lives of homeless women and their children. 

  *Name has been changed.