October 10th is World Homeless Day, a day that draws attention to people experiencing homelessness and sheds light on factors that contribute to homelessness in our societies, including systemic inequities and the lack of access to affordable housing.
In Canada, the number of people experiencing homelessness is estimated at 235,000 annually, while approximately 35,000 experience homelessness on any given day (Canadian Observatory of Homelessness, 2016).
Through the efforts of communities around the globe, we now have proof that ending homelessness is possible. Why then, is it so difficult for us to achieve this in our communities?
Foreign investments, for-profit housing development, ‘renovictions’, racial and economic inequities, NIMBYism (Not in My Backyard), lifting moratoriums on evictions, funding cuts and other governmental policies have brought us to this point.
Covid-19 served as a wakeup call as governments sprung into action to mitigate transmission among the homelessness sector, however it should not have taken a pandemic to address the dire situation of homelessness.
A lack of affordable housing has created a human rights crisis in our communities. Until we acknowledge that housing is a human right in all levels of government and implement policies that lift barriers to affordable housing, homelessness will continue.
How do we prevent this from happening?
- Support the OAEH in advocacy through our 10 Point Plan to End Homelessness and Housing Insecurity and join the OAEH as a member or partner: Ontario Alliance to End Homelessness – Partners (oaeh.ca)
- Ensure those experiencing homelessness have access to housing and supports they need and those at risk of homelessness have access to supports they need to keep their housing
- Collaborate more, pool resources and find solutions so that people do not fall through the cracks.
- Improve our local homelessness serving systems because people experiencing homelessness have been navigating ineffective systems for far too long, so much so that many will give up because they do not have the capacity or resources to access what they need
- Raise our voices so that governments are committed to providing affordable, safe and accessible housing for everyone
- Commit to listening and working with people with lived experience of homelessness, as they know firsthand what they need.
- Demand accountability from our governments and elected representatives – ask them to commit to housing as a right
- Develop housing for different populations; one size does not fit all
How can you commemorate World Homeless Day?
- Learn about homelessness and why it exists Ontario Alliance to End Homelessness – Myths Versus Facts on Encampments- Ontario Alliance to End Homelessness (oaeh.ca)
- Listen to the stories of those who have experienced homelessness
- Celebrate and honour those who are doing the work of ending homelessness in our communities
- Watch PUSH the Film which discusses the Financialization of Housing globally: https://www.tvo.org/video/documentaries/push-feature-version