When you think of people experiencing homelessness, what images come to mind? If you’re like most people, you might imagine someone sleeping on park benches, living on the streets or in cars, staying in an emergency shelter. And you’d be right. But only partially. The person you see on the street is just the tip of the iceberg, representing a small portion of the homeless population in our city.
Homelessness is the absence of a place to live. You might be surprised to learn homelessness does not discriminate against anyone, regardless of race, religion, age or gender. People from all walks of life in our own community have no adequate place to call home right at this very moment. They include:
- families with infants and small children
- individuals who are employed full time at below a living wage
- youth disconnected from their families
- post secondary students
- individuals who are faced with health related issues and disabilities
These are individuals and families who once had housing but today have no place of their own to live and don’t have enough money to pay for life's necessities. At some point, they had enough income, as well as the support network of family and friends and access to a social safety net. For a variety of reasons, increasing numbers of people in our community find themselves without access to sustained, safe and affordable housing. Some of these include:
- inability to find housing within a short period of time
- finding themselves drifting in and out of homelessness
- remaining without a home for long periods of time
Who are our homeless?
You never know; it could be anybody. It’s possible that the young woman who served you coffee today is a single mother at risk of homelessness if she encounters just one more expense. Perhaps the friendly middle-aged gentleman who pumped your gas will spend tonight on a friend's couch. Even though they work full-time, the gap between their income and rent is just too wide. Would it surprise you to imagine the family you saw on the bus will sleep tonight in an unsafe building, not fit for human habitation? Because of circumstances out of their control, these parents are just unable to secure a decent place to live while feeding and clothing their children. Consider the youth that you passed earlier today. They may be suffering the effects of inter-generational trauma and neglect leaving them without the skills to live independently. There may be other health, trauma, addiction or mental health concerns that contribute to their inability to maintain housing.
These are harsh realities in our community, and throughout our country. Raising the Roof calls it “terrible crisis of homelessness in Canada.”
Bringing Lethbridge Home believes it is time to go beyond resolving homelessness by changing the way we address it through access to the ‘right housing and supports’. The time to end it in our community has come and Bringing Lethbridge Home exists, quite simply, to do just that.