Homelessness Action Week 2008 – October 12th to 19th, 2008 September 8, 2008Posted by Raul in blogosphere, Focus on Vancouver, food for thought, Homeless Action Week, homelessness, public policy issues, random thoughts, social change, social networking, Vancouver.
Tags: homelessness, poverty, social media for social change, Vancouver, vanpoverty
Photo Credit: Matthew Good on Flickr
Last week, I mentioned that I was worried about the lack of interest in local/Canadian politics and the excessive focus on the US election on Canadian and Vancouverite blogs and on Twitter. Well, with the news of an upcoming Federal election (October 14th, 2008), I am very, VERY happy to see the interest of our bloggers, readers and Twitterers renewed on Canadian issues 🙂
During the same week, I tried to remind my readers that in order for us to really participate, and put the public back into public policy, we need to focus on local issues while maintaining a global perspective. One of those hyperlocal issues that I think we need to focus on is the lack of homes and shelter for homeless people. On a side note, I am not too sure that homelessness will be taken up as a Federal election issue, but who knows.
Even though homelessness is mostly considered a regional, municipal/provincial public policy issue, there is an actual Federal Homelessness Partnering Strategy (launched in December 2006). From their About Us page:
Under the HPS, the federal government will offer the provinces and territories the opportunity to enter into bilateral partnerships, improve collaboration and develop linkages between the federal homelessness programs and provincial/territorial social services to help communities make strategic investments that will best serve their homeless populations.[HPS About Us]
Homeless Action Week will take place EXACTLY during the 2008 Federal election week, which is kind of timely, if you ask me. Why? Well, because everything is interconnected. With the 2010 Olympics and the discussions around the gentrification of the Downtown East Side, there will be a need to re-examine the Federal strategy on homelessness. And I have the feeling that Homeless Action Week may be the catalyzer for this re-examination.
Is lack of homes (and affordable housing) an issue? Well, let’s examine the data provided by the Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness.
A 24-hour snapshot count conducted on March 11 th, 2008 indicates that 2,592 individuals were found to be homeless in the Metro Vancouver region. This number is an increase of 427 individuals over the 2005 count data, or an increase of 19% over the number of homeless individuals found in 2005, and a jump of 131% since 2002.[HAW Research Page]
So, the question again is … how can you help? In addition to all of those great suggestions provided on the RSCH page for Homeless Action Week, you can also
– Blog about it.
– Tweet about it.
– Talk about it with your friends, family, etc.
– Write about it (in print).
– Discuss it on national media.
And, two additional things you can do…
One, you could donate your time, clothing items or food to local food banks. Rebecca has for very long been a champion of Metro Vancouver’s food banks, most recently raising over $10,000 dollars for the United Gospel Mission (along with Duane and with the generous help of Matt Good, Matt’s fans and many other participants). Lack of food would most definitely be an issue that homeless people face.
Two, you can participate in the events for the 2008 Homeless Action Week. Last year, I highlighted some of the 2007 HAW events and had a chance to participate in a few. As I mentioned in that previous post, sustainability, social change and social responsibility start at home, and Vancouver is my home, so that’s where I am trying to effect change.
On that note, I would like to invite you to follow @vanpoverty on Twitter, as this is a project where I am partnering with the brilliant Joe Solomon (@engagejoe on Twitter) to use our combined blogging/social media powers to bring issues of poverty and homelessness in Vancouver to the forefront.