8th Annual Homelessness Action Week Kicks Off Today
The 8thÂ annual Homelessness Action Week (HAW), an initiative organized by the Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness, and supported by hundreds of volunteers across the region kicks off today. Taking placeÂ October 13-19, 2013, HAW is focused this year not only on providing support and services to people who are homeless, but also on raising awareness about the growing concern of Invisible Homelessness.
â€œFew people realize that some 80 per cent of homeless people do not live on the street,â€Â says Deb Bryant, Co-Chair of the Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness.Â â€œThese are the people who live in their cars, in church basements, in temporary shelters, or on the floors and couches of friends and family.Â They live month to month in unstable and even unsafe housing, and always with the fear of ending up on the street. Itâ€™s important the public be aware of this critically important issue and that we work together towards a permanent solution. We believe the solution is to start with housing, which has proven effective in other cities in Canada.â€
Seniors, youth and Aboriginal peoples are over-represented in the homeless population. These groups are particularly vulnerable to challenges such as inadequate income, abusive relationships, and health issues that lead to homelessness.Â â€œSolving and reducing the cost of homelessness begins by providing people with a secure and stable home,â€Â says Bryant, who also serves as Director, Strategic Priorities at United Way of the Lower Mainland.Â â€œOnce people are securely housed, support services, if they are needed, become much more effective in helping people meet challenges. Support services could include finding job training or improving their physical and mental well-being. But it all starts with having a place to call home.â€
Activities during Homelessness Action Week will include Homeless Connect Events (service fairs for people who are homeless), public events (such as film nights and discussion panels) and a public awareness campaign focused on raising awareness about the issues of and solutions for Invisible Homelessness. The solutions go beyond providing people with shelter and include providing people with a home – a safe and permanent place to live – while supporting them with services that help them break the cycle of homelessness.
In 2012, more than one hundred events took place across the Metro Vancouver region related to Homelessness Action Week.
Those unable to attend events can still do their part to support HAW and solutions for homelessness by:
- Supporting the solutions to homelessness by spreading the word about the need to start with housing, and using the Homelessness Action Week social media action kit found atÂ www.stophomelessness.ca.
- Contacting your local Community Homelessness Task Force to become involved in supporting the solutions in your area.
To find out more about the activities of Homelessness Action Week and how you can help visitwww.stophomelessness.ca.
On Twitter: #startwithhome.