One walk around Canada’s urban centres is enough to understand that homelessness is a national emergency.
On any given night, up to 30,000 people in our country are homeless.
Shelters, for all their value, are essentially a band-aid solution to the problem, and ‘raising awareness’ does little to actually get people off the street. So the Canadian Alliance To End Homelessness (CAEH) is stepping up in a major way, pledging to house 20,000 of Canada’s most vulnerable homeless citizens – those with complex needs and at risk of death from homelessness – by the year 2018.
CAEH launched the “20,000 Homes Campaign” in Toronto yesterday, an initiative based on a similar campaign South of the Border that succeeded in putting over 105,000 in homes over a four-year period.
Twenty-one communities have been recruited for the cause, including Halifax, Hamilton, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Kamloops. Volunteers in these cities will conduct surveys with homeless individuals to get acquainted with their situation and needs; the data will then be used to prioritize them based on housing urgency.
CAEH President Tim Richter says a “bunch of action” is necessary to challenge the inertia of the homeless system in Canada, which is exactly what this plan delivers.
Oh, and it works.
Medicine Hat has almost completely eliminated homelessness – a goal it will likely reach by the end of this year – by adopting a this kind of “Housing First” approach. The city’s mayor, fiscally-conservative Ted Clugston, even praised the plan for making financial sense.
Waiting on you, Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver…