Annually Canada has an estimate of 235,000 people who are homeless in Canada and 20 percent are youths who are homeless in Canada. Homelessness in Canada is a known factor but not spoken of. People are afraid to speak about it as it is an uncomfortable conversation to have, homeless people themselves are not as open to speaking about it themselves. A homeless women who wants to be unidentified said; “I’ve been homeless on and off for almost four years now. I have lots of supportive family and friends, but it’s hard on them to have me around all the time. In summers I sleep in my van in the countryside, showering in lakes and cooking on a camp stove. The worst part isn’t living out of a suitcase, it’s the looks I get from co-workers or friends when I tell them I’m technically homeless.” -Post from Buzzfeed (2017).
The "hidden homeless" are an estimated 50,000 people who are defined as those without homes of their own. The hidden homeless are those who lean on friends or family for shelter when needed and if that is not an option sleeping in their car, or in precarious housing options. The population of children and families is one of the fastest growing demographics in the homeless population. According to Raise the roof (2017) 10 percent of families live below the low income cut off and 14 percent of children live in poverty. One may think its easy to see who is homeless and who is not, its not that easy. Most people who are homeless are not recognized as they dress and and talk about the latest trends. The few people you see sleeping or asking for money on the streets is only a small percentage of the amount of homeless students, families, working people and singles there are. A lot of people who have everyday jobs are homeless cause the cost of loving is too high and they can't keep up with inflation. So next time you are with a family member or friend ask them if they are okay and how is everything at home, cause most likely one that is homeless will not say it.
Homeless people cope with homelessness by staying positive and living each day at a time. Homelessness is never something someone wants to experience, its usually an unexpected life changing situation.Here are some of the life changing situations that may cause or contribute to one being homeless:
- Separation/ divorce
- Unexpected events(fire, flood, electrical damage to home).
- Lack of affordable housing
- Mental Health
- Social network alienation
These are many reason why one maybe homeless but there are just as many ways to help and support them through their tough time. Organizations such as Raise the Roof seek to help by providing long-term solutions to ending homelessness. They support more than 50 community agencies across the country each year. Raise the roof, brings awareness and attention to the challenges of homelessness, they engage with Canadians through public education and works together with partners in all sectors to address issues the homeless face. Raise the roof sells products such as toques, hats , mitten and socks to help raise money for the homeless. Below shows where the proceeds go. Raise the roof is not the only organization that supports and helps the homeless but they are the very well known. Here are more organizations in Canada that helps and supports the homeless:
- Charity Village
- Homeless Hub (resources and facts about homelessness)
- Canada Helps.org
- Convenant House Toronto
- Ladybug Foundation
- The Housing Help Association of Ontario (HHAO)
Food banks help aid a diverse range of people such as single people living alone who face a very high risk of living in poverty, families and youths. In March 2016, 863,492 people received food from a food banks in Canada. Resulting to 1.3% higher than the same period in 2015, and 28% higher than in 2008. More than one-third of individuals who are helped are children and youth. More than 40% of households receiving food are families with children. Food banks are ways to help people from becoming homeless as it helps aid them with groceries. People in poverty face the battle whether to eat or for shelter. Moreover, there are times they would have to choose to eat for survival, which at times causes them their home which equals them becoming homeless.
Here are a list of food banks in Canada:
The short video below is about a hidden homeless family that takes each day at a time. They smile through it all and still enjoys life and each others company. The mother of the family had been through a divorce and job loss, two of the many reasons people become homeless. Everyday she seeks work and ensures he kids get to school with a meal provided for them at the shelter.
What are our thoughts about homelessness? Do you think it can be prevented?
Do you think all homeless people can enjoy life just as everyone else who isn't?
If you were homeless do you think you can live life like the family in the video shown above?
What can you do today to help the homeless?