National Housing Day
At United Way one of our main focuses is to ensure members in our community have access to adequate and safe housing. This Sunday, November 22nd is National Housing Day, and we want to encourage you to think about your neighbors who are experiencing or facing homelessness or inadequate housing.
Many of the homeless individuals are from Nanaimo. Most of those on the streets have always lived in Nanaimo or have been here for well over five years.
Over 77% had been homeless for more than six months
In 2020 the minimum number of people facing homelessness is 433 but the number is closer to 600.
What Causes Homelessness?
Affordability: In Canada, affordable housing is anything that costs less than 30% of a household’s income before taxes. This is applicable for anyone, whether you rent, co-own, or own your home. Half (47.4%) of Nanaimo renters spend more than 30% of their income on housing.
Insecure housing: Once a person loses their home or chooses to leave unsafe housing, it is difficult for them to secure housing again. Property owners have a larger tenant pool, making it hard for those with poor credit and/ mental or physical health problems to find housing.
Low Wages: Almost a third (29%) of single-parent families earn less than $25,000 a year.
Although the government and United Way continue to invest resources into solving the housing crisis, like through their Reaching Home Strategy that UWCNVI is a partner, there is more to be done. In your community there are still individuals who do not have a place to call home or cannot afford the place they are currently living in. Many Canadians also struggle to make repairs on their house making it unsafe for their family.
How COVID-19 is affecting affordable housing?
Because of COVID-19 many individuals have lost their jobs or are experiencing a loss of wages. Families who were struggling before COVID-19 are now facing a dramatic economic loss, making their situation more challenging. Those who are experiencing homelessness are at elevated risk of contracting COVID-19. Since the pandemic began, United Way CNVI has worked hard to ensure the homeless population has what they need to stay protected, and the front-line agencies that help those who are unhoused have what they need to continue to make a difference.
What UWCNVI does to address homelessness
At United Way Central North Vancouver Island, we work closely with several different organizations that address housing issues. They ensure individuals have a place to sleep for the night, help community members find appropriate housing, and help families relocate to more suitable living arrangements. We also work with organizations that help victims and their families safely find housing. We meet individuals where they are at and tackle pressing issues in our communities. UWCNVI serves communities all the way from the Malahat to Port Hardy to ensure that any community, big or small gets the help they need. With your generosity, we have help hundreds of homeless individuals in your community. However, there is more work to be done!
Through community development and on-the-ground work, United Way staff are working tirelessly collectively building communities and shifting the systems so that fewer of our neighbors experience homelessness. From simple acts like collecting and sharing if organizations are open for business during a crisis, to advising on local government task forces, to funding local agencies who are making an impact on homelessness, to supporting education and action, UWCNVI is dedicated to changing the dial.
As a trusted Community Entity for Reaching Home: Canada's Homelessness Strategy for more than five years, United Way works with the local community advisory boards in Nanaimo and Cowichan to invest in change for our communities. This program provides funding to urban, Indigenous, rural, and remote communities to help them address their local homelessness needs.
In March 2020, the Government of Canada announced additional funding to temporarily support people at risk of or experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak, and UWCNVI distributed funds to:
- continue to offer homeless intervention outreach services in a safe way
- re-open existing services in keeping with COVID health and safety regulations
- create new transitional housing
- provide urgent outreach services for substance use and addiction
- provide mobile outreach for Indigenous homeless youth
- connect Indigenous clients to health services, mental health support, and substance use treatment
- open a free shower program and food and water provisions for people facing homelessness
- offer food hampers, personal hygiene supplies, etc.
- peer-led, community response initiatives in response to opioid overdose increases
How to Get Involved with United way
If you are looking to help address the housing issues on Vancouver Island and make a difference in your community support United Way today! You can donate at uwcnvi.ca and every donation goes to creating positive change in YOUR community. You can also start a workplace campaign and encourage your co-workers to get involved. Make sure to stay connected by following us on social media @uwcnvi or sign up for our newsletter here
More ways to get involved!
Join in on the MHI’s National Housing Day Ceremony Online! On November 22 at 3 pm EST or if you are unable to join, they will be posting it to YouTube afterward. No registration is required. Find out more information at Multi-faith Housing
Advocate for change in your local government to allow more people to access affordable housing.
Educate yourself on the numerous housing issues in your community as well as nationally and globally. Spark up a conversation with those around you and share what you have learned. Share articles and educational videos on your social media platforms to encourage your friends to learn about housing issues surrounding them.