Be a Part of the Solution, Not the Problem!
By Nina Kumar, Grade 12
(Published online only)
Homelessness is a growing issue in Vancouver and an even bigger issue across Canada. Regardless of its type – absolute, relative, or concealed – homelessness is something that all Canadians should be concerned about. Many believe that the homeless are alcoholics or drug addicts, but this is not always the case. Homelessness is tied to various social problems, such as domestic violence, shortage of affordable housing, and high unemployment rates. Also, recent studies have found that twenty to thirty-five percent of homeless people have been treated for psychiatric disorders. Moreover, statistics show that there was a fourteen-percent increase from 1986 to 1996 in the Canadian population, but even before this period came to an end, it was shown that thirty percent of the population was living in poverty. This shows how Canada has been robbed of affordable living for a long time. With about 65,000 young homeless people found across Canada, one cannot help but think, “What on earth are we doing as a nation to change this?”
Many Canadians who follow politics have been paying close attention to Bill C-304 (also known as the National Housing Strategy). This bill can lower the cost of housing to a level that doesn’t threaten to compromise an individual’s basic needs. The National Housing Strategy can also give financial credit, without discrimination, towards people who cannot afford a rental home. Lastly, the bill aims to initiate non-profit housing projects to help the homeless. Unfortunately, although cheaper housing is vital for ending homelessness, some provinces do not agree. For example, Ontario refused to establish more social housing in 1995. Therefore, Bill C-304 can provide a solid foundation for future initiatives.
Since 2008, the City of Vancouver has been working closely with the provincial government to open emergency shelters, bringing the number of sheltered homeless people up to sixty-nine percent between the years of 2008-2010. Through our Law 12 Education Campaign on Homelessness, we hope to be part of the solution by educating the people who have been unaware of the issue’s existence. One should remember that shelters are not the solution; the real solution to homelessness is affordable housing.