A First Step

The City of Vancouver has made a commitment to eliminate homelessness by 2015, which Mayor Gregor Robertson has said is targeted toward street homelessness. Already, the number of shelter beds available in the city has made an impact on how many people are sleeping on the street, but longer-term solutions need to be addressed as well.

Local television station CTV is in the midst of an eight-part investigative series on homelessness. Their first segment focused on the non-profit Streetohome, which aims to raise 26 million dollars to fund new supportive housing complexes. Their mandate includes providing “permanent stable housing with appropriate support services.” They’ve also identified a number of at-risk groups and intend to provide services to them that will address the issues that may lead them to become homeless.

While I think that the work that Streetohome does is fantastic, it’s only one aspect of how homelessness must be addressed. Philanthropic solutions cannot be the only action taken to relieve homelessness. Economic disenfranchisement is becoming a greater factor in our culture, especially in a city as expensive as Vancouver. I’ll be watching the CTV series with interest, to see how broadly they explore the issue.

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6 thoughts on “A First Step

  1. I agree with you. More action needs to be taken. My city also has a commitment to prevent homelessness, but sometimes it seems like so many other issues stack against it. It sounds like a really great investigative series. Please let us know what you think about the other segments.

  2. Thanks, Elaine – I will! It really is an issue with so many systemic roots. It makes it hard to tease out the solutions.

  3. Homelessness is the “sexy” issue that attracts attention. I’m not saying it shouldn’t, it most certainly should. But, what about the many, many more people who do have homes, for the moment, but who are hanging on by their fingernails to survive in this insanely expensive city? Those are the working poor, and they are largely invisible.

  4. Leslie, I agree that the working poor are invisible. I think homelessness has gotten so much attention in this city only because it’s interfering with the gentrification of some neighbourhoods. It’s also something that more caring people notice and press their politicians about. It’s frustrating that we’re trying to deal with the fallout of economic disenfranchisement without dealing with its causes.

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