The City of Vancouver was hit by a disturbing statistic this month, when figures were released showing a 249-per-cent increase in unsheltered homelessness from figures produced in 2011.
The increase from 2011 took a huge spike this past year when numbers rose from 273 to over 500 individuals living on Vancouver’s streets.
Despite increased efforts by the provincial and municipal governments, more and more people in Vancouver are being denied the simple human right for shelter.
For our city to truly advance, we must increase the care offered to our most vulnerable citizens. Only then can we sit back and enjoy our laurels.
Here are three ways ordinary Vancouverites can help tackle homelessness:
1. Volunteer at a Shelter
Many homeless choose the streets over shelters because of the conditions of social housing. Volunteers are needed to help raise the standards of living at shelters across the Lower Mainland. To find a shelter that needs volunteers in your area, visit the Greater Vancouver Shelter Strategy website.
2. Financial Assistance
The Lookout Emergency Aid Society offers programs for Vancouver citizens to subsidize rent costs for the homeless. Their packages range from $75 to $300 per month. These programs help house individuals who are looking to move out of the Downtown Eastside.
3. Express Your Opinions
Inform your MLA that this is a problem that concerns everyone living in Vancouver, not just the people living without a home. A minimum wage increase and additional social housing projects are two of the ways the government can help. They need to be reminded that the public is behind these initiatives.