[2015] Riley Brubacher (CHV2Oc): Homelessness

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[2015] Riley Brubacher (CHV2Oc): Homelessness

HomelessnessBy: Riley B.

Where are the homeless?Homelessness is everywhere in Canada, even in small towns. Of course, the larger cities will have larger homeless populations. Cities like Vancouver and Toronto experience many homeless people every year. In 2013, Toronto reported 5219 people being homeless. Vancouver found 2770 people who were homeless over the past couple years. However, places like Medicine Hat are working to eliminate homelessness and find the people new homes.

Who is affected by homelessness?Many people at young ages who set out on their own have a tough time supporting themselves financially. People with minimum wages, parents who are single and the elderly all suffer the risk of becoming homeless. People with special needs also have higher risks of losing their homes. These people depend on forms of financial aid to help them make a living.

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How can you help?Canadians can help the homeless by doing the simplist of tasks such as donating old clothes, food and especially money to organizations that help the homeless. You can also donate toys and volunteer at soup kitchens and shelters. Take note that you can even contact government representatives by phonecall or email regarding this issue and complain. Help people understand that this social issue is serious and raise awareness about this subject by joining groups like "Raising the Roof" and "Salvation Army."

What causes homelessness?With lowered pension plans, wages and social assistances, the risk of homelessness has increased. People with disabilities have also become more vulnerable to homelessness as supports for them have decreased as well. About 1 in 5 low income houses have serious money troubles and find it difficult to afford their rent, spending more than 50% of their incomes on their house payments. Even half of renters and about 1 in 5 people who own homes spend about 30% of their incomes on housing. When these people become unable to continue affording their homes, they are evicted and forced to find another place to live.

How can we educate people about this issue?Organizations such as "Raising the Roof" help reduce poverty through years of research. This group is solely dedicated to helping youth without homes and has been researching this topic for around 3 years. They provide opportunities where people can learn and become involved in reducing this issue, such as fundraisers. Other organisations such as "Salvation Army" help host events including bake sales and they run homeless shelters. These ideas all inform people of the issue, and encourage them to help make a difference.

Why is it important?Around 180,000 are placed in emergency shelters and its costing about $7 billion each year. This money goes towards health and social services to these people. In addition, 13,000-33,000 people are occasionally without homes. The rate of death for the homeless is about 40 times greater than the average death rate in Canada. Sadly, the deaths are often the outcome of suicide and drug abuse. There are a lot of people without homes who need help.

What is homelessness?Homelessness is defined as "without a home" (Dictionary.com). It is said that about 35,000 Canadians are without homes each night and 235,000+ people are homeless each year in Canada. About 50,000 people spend time at a friend or a family member's place as they have no home to themselves. Some make homes in prisons, hospitals and even motels. Many people (around 5,000), however, live with no shelter, on the streets, and are more commonly classified as homeless people.

When did homelessness become a problem?Homelessness began to pose a problem in the 1990's when the Federal government slowed down their supply of reasonably priced housing. 100,000 affordable houses have not been built in the past 20 years. People became less able to afford these expensive houses, and were forced to leave because of money problems. With the governement's drop from $115 to $60 in funding towards each house with low income, people have been unable to afford their payments and have become rendered homeless.

Why I chose this particular subject.I chose this social issue because I recognised it right away as a problem I have seen first-hand every time I have gone to large cities. I swear that there hasn't been a single time I've gone to a city and not seen someone asking for money to buy food. I have seen many news reports on the homeless and their struggle (particularly through winter). I wanted to learn more about why these people were becoming homeless and without money, and how a person could actually make a difference in the homeless community.

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