High School’s Campaign on Homelessness
By Jomar Sastrillo, Grade 12
Law 12 students at Windermere Secondary School have initiated the annual Educational Campaign on Homelessness by engaging in various projects under the direction of Law teacher Ms. Lee. In light of the Homelessness Action Week from October 10 to October 16, the campaign aimed to investigate the laws in relation to the issue and possible solutions. The class has organized a clothing drive, interviewed prominent members of the community, such as Don Davies, Tim Louis, and Libby Davies, participated in public debates, listened to talks from leaders of local campaigns, and donated to local charities. The goal of this campaign is to set an example for others to follow and to fulfill our responsibility as citizens to help our community.
The two main causes of homelessness are lack of income and the rising cost of housing. Availability, addiction problems, and family conflicts are secondary but equally major concerns. Most homeless people are young but poorly educated. They support themselves mostly through pan-handling, criminal activities, social assistance, and low-paid employment
s. At the same time, they must face the threat of harassment at the hands of the police, violence, sickness, and death.
There are several proposed government bills that aim to end homelessness. The major initiative is a national housing strategy being debated in the House of Commons. It is known as Bill C-304 and was proposed by Libby Davies, MP for Vancouver East. A separate provincial legislation called the Assistance to Shelter Act was passed. It has been highly controversial because it gives police officers the power to force homeless people into shelters. In comparison, Vancouver has proposed a ten-year housing strategy to build affordable housing.
The bottom line is that the action against homelessness should be well-coordinated and focused. The essential tripartite solution to homelessness is to create and maintain affordable housing, support services, and create income. The current projects being undertaken serve as catalysts that motivate others to contribute to the cause, but it is everyone’s duty to maintain a sustainable society. If criminals know the advantage of recruiting the homeless and the impoverished, why can’t governments understand the economic and social benefits of ending homelessness?