World Homeless Day and Homelessness Action Week 2021

Oct 2021 | Action Events Homelessness

World Homeless Day and Homelessness Action Week happen annually in October and are important campaigns to get involved with to raise awareness of homelessness in Nanaimo, dispel myths and misconceptions of people experiencing homelessness, all while learning about how to take action in the local community.

Homelessness in Nanaimo

Nanaimo is experiencing a homelessness and unaffordable housing crisis. According to The 2020 Nanaimo Point-in-Time Count carried out just before the COVID-19 lockdown, Nanaimo’s homeless population is over 600 people and continues to grow. This count showed an increase of 29% since 2018 and 149% since 2016. Due to the COVID-19 restrictions that were in place while the count took place, there is reason to believe that the number of people facing homeless in Nanaimo is underrepresented in this count. 

Not only is the number of people facing homelessness in Nanaimo increasing, but the length of time people struggle with homelessness is also on the rise. The Point-in-Time Count revealed that 77.1% had reported being chronically homeless for six months or more – a 5% increase from 2018.

Impacts of COVID-19 on Nanaimo’s most vulnerable

The COVID-19 pandemic worsened an already challenging situation by adding additional pressures on overburdened non-profit organizations and service providers. COVID-19 health regulations forced reduced shelter capacity, disruptions to local services, limited access to resources and facilities as well as issues with staffing due to isolation requirements and continually developing safety protocols. People who were already on the edge of facing homelessness found themselves unemployed and unhoused.

Many people who were previously housed fell into homelessness during the pandemic due to job loss, lack of financial support and the struggling economy. We don’t yet know the full impacts, but Nanaimo’s 2022 Point-in-Time Count may show how detrimental COVID-19 was to our vulnerable residents.  Many of Nanaimo’s residents struggled to find housing and with the current low vacancy rates, many still do to this day.

World Homeless Day

World Homeless Day takes place annually on October 10th and was founded in 2010. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness of homelessness and to work towards providing more resources, services and opportunities with the goal of ending homelessness.

Homelessness Action Week: How Homelessness Happens

Similar to World Homeless Day, Homelessness Action Week’s purpose is to raise awareness of homelessness while rallying for positive change.

In British Columbia, Homelessness Action Week happens annually in mid-October, is active in over 20 BC communities and is organized by Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley Council of Community Homelessness Tables.

This year, the Nanaimo Homeless Coalition’s Homelessness Action Week theme is centred around paths to homelessness. Learn more about how homelessness happens in your community:

How Homelessness Happens: Health Challenges

How Homelessness Happens: Family and Relationships

How Homelessness Happens: High Cost of Living

How Homelessness Happens: Substance Use and the Opioid Crisis

We encourage you to follow our Facebook posts and blog posts throughout the week, taking time to gain knowledge about why people experience homelessness and what you can do to help. 

Ways to get involved

There are many ways to get involved with Homelessness Action Week this October:

Educate

Take time to learn more about homelessness in Nanaimo and share your learnings on Facebook to help spread the knowledge.

Tag us in your post @NanaimoHomelessCoalition and share our informative posts using the hashtags #HomelessnessActionWeek and #EndHomelessness.

Highlight

Discover local organizations, people and programs that work hard to support Nanaimo’s most vulnerable. Highlight their efforts and suggest ways to support them within your local community.

Participate

Whether you’re able to make a financial gift, a donation of goods or give your time through volunteering, local organizations need and appreciate your support. United Way British Columbia provides funding and grants to organizations in Nanaimo; support many local organizations by making a donation here.

Collaborate

Contact a local service provider or non-profit that’s making a difference to find out how you can support them this winter.

This World Homeless Day and Homelessness Action Week, the Nanaimo Homeless Coalition will be sharing informative content on Facebook, through our Newsletter and on our website. Learn more about how homelessness happens and how you can make an impact by following us on Facebook, subscribing to our mailing list and reading our blog.

Are you hosting a local event in Nanaimo and wanting to spread the word? Email comms@nanaimohomelesscoalition.ca today.

Watch more stories from the frontline of the homelessness crisis

Resources to help you

Do You Need Help?

If you’re looking for mental health support, shelter, addictions treatment, food banks and more, BC 211 can help.

Or search HelpSeeker for access to over 770 services, programs and resources in Nanaimo.