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Homelessness in Vancouver: A very complex issue July 19, 2008

Posted by Raul in Downtown, homelessness, public policy issues, social change, Vancouver.
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Last week, I had a conversation with Nancy Zimmerman on her post regarding the ticketing of homeless people who were sleeping in Oppenheimer Park (at 4:30am on Thursday I think), in the Downtown East Side. As I have mentioned before, the realities of the Downtown East Side (DTES) are very complex, and homelessness is not an easy issue to tackle. If it were, Vancouver wouldn’t have any problems of homelessness.

One of the most debilitating and dis-empowering feelings I have ever had in my life is the feeling of not having where to sleep. The most recent time I moved to Canada, I simply didn’t have a place to stay nor had I secured housing at the university. Therefore, for like three weeks, I *had* to stay at a friends’ place. While her apartment was very nice, living out of a set of luggage bags is NOT really nice.

Now, I have adapted to Canada and to Vancouver, but those feelings of disempowerment are not easy to let go. I hope I never get to experience them, ever again.

I am also keenly aware of how much Nancy loves her neighbourhood and how committed she is to social change. I think that we ought to take a holistic view to the homelessness issue and more than anything, be compassionate. We never know when we can end up there. Fate has a way of turning out in unexpected ways.

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1. nancy (aka money coach) - July 19, 2008

Thanks for this, Raul. It’s pretty deep into our dna, the need for a place – even a little space – to call our own; a place to belong. Clearly you are able to empathize with those who don’t have it. I think you are *exactly* right: compassion is called for. If every last one of us in Vancouver were to evaluate and problem-solve through the eyes of compassion, I am absolutely certain we could, indeed put an end to homelessness. Thanks again for your thoughtful post.


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