Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/9/2014 (2580 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
On my way to the grocery store the other day, I spotted firefighters tending to what I perceived to be a homeless man in front of the Comodo Chinese Restaurant on Gateway Road.
Homelessness grew from a troubling issue afflicting a small number of Canadians to a broader social and economic problem in the 1980s.
According to the Homelessness in Winnipeg fact sheet (http://ww2.uwinnipeg.ca/index/news-homeless-facts) there are about 135,000 people at risk of becoming homeless, 7,600 ‘hidden’ homeless (couch surfing), 1,915 short-term or crisis sheltered people and 350 people living on the streets of this city.
Homelessness is especially visible in the downtown core, where many individuals access emergency shelters, rooming houses and hotels for temporary housing.
So how does homelessness affect me, in my own community in North Kildonan?
The first affect of homelessness is economic. According to York University professor Stephen Gaetz, the cost of homelessness encompasses shelters and services, and indirect costs such as increased use of the health care system (paramedics, emergency departments and hospital stays), mental health and addictions treatment and the criminal justice system.
In 2007, the annual cost of homelessness in Canada was estimated to be between $4.5 and $6 billion.
Violence and high levels of crime become a means of conflict resolution and survival in such circumstances, leading to involvement with the criminal justice system and damage to the community. Street survival activities, such as panhandling, squeegeeing and prostitution, generate income and become more prominent. Homeless people are forced to find alternate places to sleep, including doorways of businesses, stairwells of apartment buildings and in bus shelters.
People are morally affected because they share public space with those who struggle with day-to-day survival, and homelessness can create divisions in a community if an ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality emerges.
If a family in the suburbs is left homeless due to a sudden fire or tragic event, communities commonly rally behind them to provide aid. But if individuals are living on the street in the same communities because of tragedies that are less immediate (sexual abuse, loss of job), they face criticism and marginalization.
Here are three ideas for how you can support the fight to end homelessness:
1. Contribute financially by donating money, donations or time to agencies that support homeless persons;
2. Demand more affordable housing. Ask election candidates about their position on the city’s role in supporting the creation of affordable housing;
3. Support the Plan to End Homelessness in Winnipeg. For more information, visit: http://www.homelesshub.ca/resource/plan-end-homelessness-winnipeg
Charlene Kroll is a community correspondent for North Kildonan. She can be contacted at email@example.com
North Kildonan community correspondent
Charlene Kroll was a community correspondent for North Kildonan.