North Shore News: Seniors add to homeless numbers – October 10, 2012


THIS fall, a 75-year-old woman spent her nights sleeping outside at Ambleside Park.

The news came from Paul Butler, who spoke to District of North Vancouver council last week on behalf of the North Shore Homelessness Task Force.

Homelessness Action Week takes place from Oct. 7 to 13 on the North Shore, and for Butler, it’s a crucial time to call attention to the seniors pushed from their homes by ballooning bills and the young people unable to gain a foothold in the job market.

“We’re seeing an increase in young people and more importantly right now, an increase in seniors who aren’t able to stay in their own homes because they’re one cheque away from losing their home or not being able to pay for their hydro bills,” Butler said.

The dearth of inexpensive housing is the cause of most homelessness on the North Shore according to Butler and North Shore Housing Centre manager Linda Fox.

“People that come from the North Shore, they don’t want to be housed in other places, they want to stay in their home where their roots are. There is a genuine lack of affordable housing on this side of the water,” Fox said.

Speaking to Butler at the Oct. 3 council meeting, Coun. Alan Nixon asked if homeowners could be convinced to open the doors of the approximately 20,000 to 30,000 unoccupied bedrooms in the District of North Vancouver.

“There’s still a stigma of what a homeless person is,” Butler replied.

Many curious citizens who examine local homeless shelters are surprised at its inhabitants, according to Fox.

“It’s not all the stereotypical homeless person that’s drug-addicted. In fact that’s probably the smallest percentage of the homelessness issues on the North Shore,” she said. “We’re even finding the working-class individuals are starting to become displaced.”

Recently, many improvements have been made in finding transitional housing for people who would otherwise be homeless, according to Butler.

This is largely due to a second full-time tenant support worker on the North Shore, who was hired with funds raised from Dundarave’s Festival of Lights.

A lot of help is necessary in the transition phase, according to Fox, when previously homeless people are trying to furnish an apartment and pay utilities while working a job that barely covers rent.

For Butler, the problem comes down to the price of housing.

“There are many roads to homelessness, but there are few roads out that don’t travel through adequate affordable housing and appropriate support services. Solutions to the problems of homelessness in our community will require continued political will on the part of community and council,” he said.

“The importance of (Homelessness Action Week) is to bring awareness to the community, bring awareness to those affected individuals that there are some services out there that they may not be aware of. They aren’t alone. The community is out there actively trying to assist,” said Fox.

Connect Day, which is slated for Oct. 10 between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the Salvation Army on West 12th Street, includes a health clinic, immunizations, clothing vouchers, haircuts, and connections to employment programs and income assistance.

A youth dinner is scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday evening at the Youth Safe House on West First Street in North Vancouver. The dinner is scheduled to include outreach and hygiene kits.

A mother and kids lunch is slated for 11 a.m. on Thursday at the John Braithwaite Community Centre. The meal includes counselling programs, fitness access cards, employment programs and free child minding.

On Friday night the Ambleside Youth Centre in West Vancouver hosts a movie and discussion night beginning at 7 p.m.

The week is scheduled to finish off with a street soccer game at Norseman Field at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

In 2013, the North Shore Culinary Education Society is scheduled to start a program in the City of North Vancouver to give at-risk people training to help them land jobs in the food industry, according to Butler.

The North Shore Housing Centre is largely assisted by large and small donations from concerned residents, according to Fox, who says even pair of socks or a towel is helpful.

“Everything that anyone gives us helps us to restart somebody’s life,” she said.

Homelessness Action Week Schedule: North Vancouver

Homelessness Action Week is a Canada wide event, and it provides an important opportunity for the Task Force to reach out to the community and raise awareness about homelessness and support for initiatives to address it. As with any awareness raising event, the intention is not to think we can solve a problem in a week, but to start a conversation that will last throughout the year. We aim to let community members in need know about the services are available to them, to inform all community members about how they can help, and to enhance the awareness about homelessness and its solutions across the North Shore.

To this end, we have put together an exciting program which is intended to build partnerships with the business community and provide opportunities for community members to make a meaningful difference within their community.

Find a printable schedule and poster here (pdf file).

Monday October 8, 2012 – Thanksgiving Dinner – Everyone Welcome
Lookout Housing Centre 705 West 2nd St. – Time: 5pm-6pm

Tuesday October 9, 2012 – Dinner and Music
North Lonsdale United Church 3380 Lonsdale at Osborne – Time: 5:30pm to 6:45pm
Please call 605 985 4911 to reserve your spot by Noon on Monday.
Please use lower door from parking lot.

Wednesday October 10, 2012 – North Shore Connect
Salvation Army 105 West 12th Street – Time: 8am-3pm
Breakfast: 8am Lunch: 1pm
Health Clinic, Foot Care, Flu Vaccines, Clothing Vouchers, Shoes, Socks, Hygiene Kits, Hair Cuts, Housing Outreach, Employment Programs, Eye Exams, Income Assistance Help, Fitness Access Cards, Counselling/Mental Health programs, Drug/Alcohol Programs, Smoking Cessation, Lung Testing, and more!

Wednesday October 10, 2012 – Youth Dinner
Youth Safe House – Time: 5pm-9pm
Activities, Outreach, Hygiene Kits, Flu Shots
Open to All past and present youth

Thursday October 11, 2012 – Mother & Kids Lunch
John Braithwaite Community Centre Shoreline Room 145 West 1st – Time: 11am-2pm
Hair Cuts, Clothing Vouchers, Employment Programs, Counselling Programs, Fitness Access Cards, Free Child Minding.

Thursday October 11, 2012 – Megaphone/Hope In Shadows Vendor Training
John Braithwaite Community Centre 145 West 1st – Time: 1pm to 2:30pm
Earn Extra Cash! Megaphone is a magzine that homeless and low-income vendors by for 75 cents each and sell for $2. Hope In Shadows is a calendar that homeless and low-income vendors buy for $10 and sell for $20. The City of North Vancouver recently approved vending in some areas. If you’d like to be a vendor come for a training session and recieve 10 free copies of Megaphone and 1 free Hope In Shadows calendar to get yourself started. Limit of 16 participants. First come, first served.

Thursday October 11, 2012 – BC Children in Poverty: A Panel Discussion
Royal Canadian Legion, 123 West 15th – Time: 7pm to 9pm
Hosted by CFUW North Vancouver

Friday October 12, 2012 – Movie and Discussion Night
Ambleside Youth Centre 1018 Marine Drive, West Vancouver – Time: 7pm
Film Presentation and discussion about homelessness in our community

Saturday October 13 – Street Soccer Exhibition Game
Hosted by the Salvation Army at Norseman Field 2310 Lonsdale Ave – Time: 1pm-4pm
Teams from North Shore and across the lower mainland
Street Soccer Rules
Dinner after games for all players hosted by Salvation Army