On October 17 and 18, nine Staff from Family Transition Place participated in the 20,000 Homes Campaign, a National campaign to end homelessness.   Surveys were conducted with people who were homeless in Orangeville, Shelburne and Grand Valley over a full 48 hour time period. The data collected from this survey will allow us to get a clearer picture and an understanding of the scope of homelessness in our community and lead us to a plan for action to end homelessness.

Homelessness in Dufferin County looks different than it does in the city.  We don’t see people sleeping on the streets. But just because we don’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. So, if it exists, what can you or I do about it in order to make a difference?

Go to your elected government officials (Mayor, MP, MPP) and tell them about your experiences and that homelessness in Dufferin County is unacceptable. Let them see your face and have them explain to you why resources are so limited. I am not sure our elected officials think we have housing issues in Dufferin.

If you are in a position to employ people, pay a living wage.  Minimum wage is not enough to live on.

If you are a landlord, be a good landlord. Provide adequate housing that is safe and in good repair.  Offer reasonable rent so that people can afford to live.

If you have extra space in your house, consider renting it out at a reasonable rate.

Donate to your local food bank. People are spending most of their income on costs associated with their housing and so have little left for food.

As a community, support your local businesses and services. Support new builds that are affordable and accessible.  Support local social service agencies with time or resources.

Educate yourself. Differentiate between what is stereotypes and myths about homelessness versus what is reality.  No one is getting rich living on “the system”.  When you are the one needing help, will “the system” be able to help you?

Get to know your neighbour, you never know what someone may be going through or how you may be able to help them.  Everyone has a story.  A smile, a kind word or helpful gesture can help.

Most of all, everyone deserves a place to call home. It is a basic human need.  The fact that we have individuals and families in our community without a place to call home is unacceptable and it’s time we all did something about it.

November 22 is the National Housing Day. It’s time to take action. For more information about what you can do check out the following:  20,000 Homes Campaign; 20 K Dufferin; Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness; The Homeless Hub; Let’s Talk Housing.

Janice Glassford- FTP Housing and Transitional Support Counsellor

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