World Homeless Day (WHD) is tomorrow, October 10th. According to its website, The purpose of WHD is to draw attention to homeless people’s needs locally and provide opportunities for the community to get involved in responding to homelessness, while taking advantage of the stage an international day’ provides.
As Tanya has written before, those of us at the Homeless Hub “advocate acting on and thinking about homelessness every day of the year (or as much as possible).” I’m not a huge fan of tokenistic days like WHD for this reason, but I can’t deny that declaring a day to a specific issue can sometimes draw attention to those that sorely need it. When over 235,000 Canadians experience homelessness in a given year, far too many are living in poverty, and 12.5% of households have a hard time getting enough food, it is clear that we must embrace all efforts to bring homelessness and poverty to the forefront.
Tanya’s recommended actions include volunteering, donating, educating/learning and advocating. Since the Canadian federal election is coming up fast (October 19th!), I’d like to focus this post on advocacy and political involvement – especially important as the campaigns have tended to focus on “middle class families,” not those who are most in need. Here are some ideas of how you can give homelessness the attention it deserves:
- Browse our election guide and see how each major party platform stands up to the recommendations made in the State of Homelessness in Canada 2014 report, which include:
- A new federal, provincial and territorial housing agreement
- Investments to target chronically and episodically homeless people
- Direct investments in affordable housing initiatives
- Housing benefits to people who experience affordability issues
- A new affordable housing tax credit
- Investment in Aboriginal housing both on and off reserves
Pollenize also has a handy website that collects major party platform information, with specific areas on housing policy. You can also pledge to vote #housing4all, and use Twibbon to add the badge on the right to your profile photo.
- Reach out to your local candidates. (Find out who this is on the Elections Canada website). Ask them what their party plans to do about homelessness, poverty and the lack of affordable housing. Our guide has a list of very specific questions that may help you get more than a canned response.
- Attend an event, like this one at the Peel Art Gallery, Museum and Archives.
- Incorporate anti-homelessness and anti-poverty activism into your everyday life. It can be as small as sharing resources from our library, starting discussions with friends/family members and debunking common myths; or as large as volunteering, donating time/money to local organizations or taking part in campaigns/rallies. The sky’s the limit! Choose something that is both meaningful and manageable for you.
Remember, ending homelessness is possible. It’s not going to be easy, but it isn’t something we should simply accept. Here are a few more resources on how to help end homelessness:
- How can I help people experiencing homelessness in winter?
- Housing First: Supporting communities to end homelessness
- How to raise awareness about hidden homelessness
- Why don’t governments listen?
This post is part of our Friday "Ask the Hub" blog series. Have a homeless-related question you want answered? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide a research-based answer.