Community : Homelessness Action Week Campaign Addresses the Costs of Homelessness
During Homelessness Action Week, October 11 to 17, the Nanaimo Homeless Coalition is launching a campaign to educate members of the public about the true cost of homelessness on our society.
The Coalition’s aim is to help people understand that the solution to ending homelessness is not just in providing homes for every individual, but also in addressing how Canada’s current system needs to end homelessness by looking at the root causes.
Our current response to homelessness is failing our most vulnerable community members because we’re responding reactively and trying to manage the situation by relying heavily on emergency services and providing health-care, shelters and corrections. It is a very expensive and ineffective system that does nothing to stop people from falling into homelessness in the first place.
During Homelessness Action Week, the Coalition will present data and information about homelessness through a dynamic social media campaign, “Did you know?”. An informative poster series that addresses the more personal side of homelessness will also be available for print.
The Nanaimo Homeless Coalition Knowledge Panel will launch during Homelessness Action Week as well. The Panel is formed of a variety of speakers who are available upon request to virtually present on their area of expertise to public groups. The speakers have a wide range of expertise in areas like mental health, stigma reduction, homeless services and housing issues.
The Coalition’s push during Homelessness Action Week aims to show that our current system, which is reactive versus proactive, is malfunctioning.
In Canada, the average cost for a person struggling with homelessness is $53,144 per year. This covers health services, emergency room visits, substance-use treatment, police interactions, incarceration and shelters. This does not cover permanent housing, food or transportation. It is a very expensive system.
Until senior levels of government create new policy and invest resources that eliminate paths into homelessness, the Nanaimo Homeless Coalition is working to build a more effective system to better help those who are living on the street. One of the biggest changes will be the implementation of a Coordinated Access System.
Currently, Nanaimo’s system is decentralized, so when someone needs help it’s not always clear to them where to go or what programs are available. A Coordinated Access System helps people facing homelessness receive assistance in a standardized way, connecting them with the supports they need and placing them into housing more efficiently. It makes the most of existing resources and helps organizations collect better information about their clients so they can improve their level of care. All service providers will be able to access the same confidential information so they can better understand their clients’ needs and connect them with housing and supports in a more streamlined way.
The Nanaimo Homeless Coalition is working with the City of Nanaimo’s Health and Housing Task Force and United Way Central & Northern Vancouver Island to implement a Coordinated Access System for Nanaimo, as required by Government of Canada’s Reaching Home, Canada’s Homeless Strategy to be in place in Nanaimo by 2022.
 Distasio, Jino. (2017, October 9). Canadians spending big money on homelessness without addressing its root causes. CBC News