World Homeless Day started on October 10th, 2010, and has been recognized annually on this day in over 100 countries since. The purpose of World Homeless Day is to recognize the needs of people experiencing homelessness and provide an opportunity for the community to get involved in the fight to prevent and end homelessness. As we continue to experience the global COVID-19 pandemic, the needs of people experiencing homelessness have shifted and have become excerbated. Research suggests that people experiencing homelessness are at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19 due to compromised immune systems, nutrition and hygiene, and frequent overcrowding at shelters.

While having an international day that recognizes the challenges of those experiencing homelessness is a great start, homelessness is an issue that affects people 365 days of the year. It is important to advocate for those experiencing homelessness and honour the spirit of this day all year long.

Here's How You Can Get Involved in the Fight to Prevent and End Homelessness:

1. Volunteer. The World Homeless Day slogan focuses on thinking globally and acting locally. You can call 211 for Ontario or 311 for the Region of Peel to determine which organizations may need assistance. If you are in a different region, determine the hotline your community uses to connect individuals with volunteer opportunities.

2. Donate. Community organizations aren’t always able to take specific donated items – i.e. used clothing – because of lack of storage or hygiene issues. Call a local shelter or drop-in centre and find out what they could use. Maybe it’s a product – new socks, blankets, coffee gift cards, toiletries, food – or maybe it’s a financial donation. Leverage your donation by getting others from your work, school, family, or faith community to contribute as well.

3. Learn and Share. Learn more about homelessness and its solutions by reading current research. There are many myths that persist around homelessness. This is problematic because it further stigmatizes and criminalizes a group of people who are already marginalized. In order to effectively address the homelessness crisis, it is crucial to understand the realities that this population faces. The Homeless Hub provides lots of easily understood research resources. Check our topics section as a starting point.

4. Advocate. Contact your politicians – at the municipal, provincial/territorial or federal level. Ask them to support solutions to homelessness including a national housing strategy.