Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

5 MYTHS ABOUT HOMELESSNESS

Posted by strattof on March 7, 2019

There are many myths about homelessness. “Homelessness is a choice” is one example. These myths do a lot of damage.

  • They influence government policy in such a way that little or nothing is done to end homelessness.
  • They influence how we as individuals think about people who are homeless.
  • They further contribute to the stigmatization of people who are already marginalized.

In Regina’s 2018 homelessness count, 286 people were identified as homeless. That’s 54 more people than were identified in the 2015 count—a 23% increase.

These figures do not include the hidden homeless: people who are double-bunking or couch-surfing—groups that could double or even triple the number of homeless people in Regina.

We need to change the way we think about homelessness so we can end homelessness in our community.

NO ONE SHOULD BE HOMELESS IN REGINA—OR ANYWHERE!

MYTH # 1

HOMELESSNESS IS A CHOICE.

No one wants to be homeless when they grow up. Rather, homelessness is sometimes the only option in the face of circumstances such as: a job loss a rent increase a government cut to an income assistance program a relationship breakdown domestic violence.

What people who are homeless want and need is affordable housing. While apartments are currently available in Regina, for many people they are not affordable.

MYTH # 2

HOMELESS PEOPLE ARE LAZY.

Being homeless is very hard work. Survival while homeless means:

  • Spending all day getting to food.
  • Searching out a safe place to sleep.
  • Navigating the maze of social service agencies.

This is not to mention the difficulty of finding public washrooms, making sanitation an issue homeless people face on a daily basis. There is also the challenge of arranging for a shower and change of clothes.

Homeless people manage all of these things while lugging their few possessions around with them.

Homelessness is not for the faint-of-heart—or the lazy!

MYTH # 3

G E T A J O B !

Many homeless people already have a job. But Saskatchewan’s minimum wage—a measly $11.06 per hour—is too low to cover rent. In Regina, a minimum wage worker would have to work 67 hours each week to afford a one-bedroom apartment—defining affordable as 30% of a person’s income.

Besides, it is hard to find a job while homeless. Obstacles include: Lack of a permanent address Lack of regular access to a computer or a phone Lack of regular access to a shower or clean clothes Transportation challenges.

MYTH # 4

IT’S TOO EXPENSIVE!

How much would it cost to end homelessness in Canada? In 2017, the Trudeau government promised that, with $42 billion in spending, it would cut Canada’s homelessness in half by 2030.

Do the math. According to the Trudeau government figure, it would cost $84 billion to end homlessness in Canada by 2030.

It is estimated that 235,000 people are currently homeless in Canada. What kind of country would purposely condemn 117,500 of its citizens to homelessness?

How much does Canada spend on war? Right now, it’s about $25 billion annually. And the Liberals have promised to increase military spending to $32 billion annually by 2030.

We can well afford to end homelessness!

MYTH # 5

HOMELESSNESS WILL NEVER END.

Homelessness does end, one life at a time. The life expectancy of a person who is homeless in Canada is 39 years, about half the national average.

Public policy is the leading cause of homelessness. There are a number of policies governments (federal, provincial, and municipal) can adopt which, together, will end homelessness. These include providing

  • A Living Wage
  • Adequate Income Assistance Rates
  • Enough Affordable Housing
  • Enough Supportive Housing

If ending homelessness is a matter of political will, then it is our responsibility to ensure that our political leaders have that will.

Let your City Councillor, MLA, and MP know you do not want to live in a city, a province, or a country where even one person is homeless.

TOGETHER WE CAN END HOMELESSNESS!

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