Why Homelessness in Canada?

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, to talk and give a perspective on Givway & Co. A lot of people since we have started this journey into business have asked us why we would choose homelessness as our company’s integral social concern. Homelessness, arguably, is one of the most prominent social issues of our time. It occurs everywhere; all over the world, to both countries with high and low GDPs (Gross Domestic Product). Below are some reoccurring reasons for ‘living rough:’

Some Common Triggers of Homelessness:

1. Loss of Job

2. Bills being higher than Earnings

3. Eviction by Family Member (this is even more of a factor in regards to homeless LGBTQ* individuals, especially youth, whose families may have a hard time accepting part of their identity)

4. Abuse at Home

5. Transiting from incarceration

6. Suffering from illness, disability and/or (a) mental health issue(s)

7. Change in Family Status (e.g. a broken relationship)

8. Issues with Drugs and/or Alcohol (the smallest portion)

Homelessness is complex and multi-faceted. It is, perhaps one of the most perplexing phenomena in Canada & US (conventionally deemed ‘North America’) because it is a place with so much. I often quipped with friends that if you told people in faraway continents like Asia or Africa that you had people living on the streets in Canada and US, they wouldn’t believe you. It could not be the same places where ‘money grows on trees’ if you work hard enough, and the American Dream is still very much alive and in its purest form in their imaginations.

When you Google ‘homelessness in Canada,’ it paints an interesting picture. The first ad is promising, it is www.raisingtheroof.org, a great organization that is “striving to provide long-term solutions for Canada’s homeless.” The less fortunate are often thought of and donated to during ‘the giving season,’ starting somewhere in October and lasting as long as early in the 2nd week of January. This goodwill can and does continue for places on both sides of the border that get cold, but even that ends. Food banks, which may often serve the ‘hidden homeless’ even made the ‘Christmas in July’ drives, in order to get their food reserves stocked up during the lowest point of the year for donations. The search results of ‘homelessness in Canada’ has a mix of news stories, government statistics and NGOs specifically targeting the issue.

So why did Givway & Co. choose to help alleviate homelessness in one of richest countries in world? How are we trying to do our bit? By helping organizations who help this vulnerable population, who can be those on the streets to those considered as ‘the hidden homeless.’ We are striving to get a backpack in every hand that needs it across the country. Many have told us that backpacks are not enough. Homelessness isn’t a simple problem to fix, but every little bit helps.

The Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, www.caeh.ca is a national movement to end homelessness, by invoking a network of resources, like-minded organizations and plenty more. We aren’t alone in thinking that the end of homelessness is a well thought-out plan and execution, not a dream. The Housing First strategy is the current leading thought in solving homelessness. In simple terms, it is getting people into sustainable, affordable housing and then surrounding clients with needed services around stable housing.

You can’t talk about homelessness in Canada without mentioning The Homeless Hub, a premier research institute started out of York University that is non-profit and non-partisan, committed to contributing solutions to solve homelessness with everyone’s input. Check them out here: www.homelesshub.ca

So why care about homelessness in Canada? We care about alleviating homelessness because we are a country with so much. Canada’s vulnerable deserve to have their status elevated to be contributing members of society. Members that find meaning through agency, autonomy, positive relationships and steady employment/occupation. We, along with many like-minded organizations, believe that the end of homelessness is a plan to be completed, not just a dream to be dreamt.

Lots of love,