Helping the Homeless

Helping the Homeless

And getting over the stereotypes

(See bottom of page for useful links and statistics for Halton & the GTA)

 

The Stereotypes

I can understand a person’s fear when it comes to the homeless, because I’ve been afraid too. When I first moved to the GTA area, I was quite ignorant and I was full of assumptions and stereotypes about homeless people being dirty, crazy, alcoholic, drug users and all ex-murderers. That was not progressive nor productive. It made me afraid and avoidant of my favourite hang out spots, and it wasn’t helpful to others because I was too afraid to help.

Alternatives and a new outlook

The truth was, I didn’t know and I still don’t know why a certain person is homeless. Back then, I needed to find some alternative reasons for homelessness. Here are a few: A severe mental illness, poverty*, identity theft, house fire with no or little insurance and no family, refugee, avoiding deportation to an unsafe homeland, a run away from an abusive home or foster family, previously committed a minor offense and are without support. The list goes on.  I eventually decided to stop over analyzing ‘WHY?’.  My newer motto is that if someone needs help, help.. and that kindness and compassion does not need questions answered.

Cash Donation Alternatives

Cash isn’t the only way to assist someone. We can offer our time with a local organization, donate clothing and other needed goods to a local shelter or charity (Call ahead and ask what they need). We can also directly offer someone items such as a bottle of water, beef jerky, umbrella, or winter gloves, gift cards (for a store in the area- otherwise, how will they get there?)  transit day pass, etc. We can also offer to buy them lunch. Offer to wash their bedding or replace them with clean ones. Ask if they would like a care package.  Ask them what they need.

Equality and Compassion

Ask them what they need. Do NOT allow the mindset that people in need are second-class citizens who should be more than grateful for anything you give them. Do NOT allow negative perceptions that this person whom you’re trying to help cannot be in need if they aren’t going to take anything and everything. Do not let your motto be “Beggars cannot be Choosers”. Like us, they have preferences, personality, rights and dignity. They are our equals who are in need of assistance as we all need help sometimes. They’ve also been through their own personal struggles so be mindful of that. 🙂

Examples

“Hey, I don’t have any change/cash, but can I’ll buy you lunch (on debit). Is Subway okay? What kind of sandwich would you like?”

“Your shoes are falling apart, my friend. If you’d like, tell me your shoe size and I can get you some newer ones.”

“I’ve got an extra umbrella, bottle of water and a few extra pairs of socks that may fit you. Do you need any of these?”

♥♥Note: For safety -I never offer and rarely allow a person to accompany me to a store. After all, they are still strangers.  I never approach anyone I feel may be dangerous or physically harm me, nor do I travel down any dangerous or unknown routes in search of someone in need. As the old saying goes, “Safety First.” ♥♥

 

♥♥Resources♥♥

Halton and Peel Region

If you are in the Halton Area (Ontario) and you need Emergency housing, please dial 311 and ask for emergency housing options. Click here

Apply for Social housing in the Peel region. Click here

Read Peel Regions Housing and Homeless Plan. Click here

Toronto

Apply for housing in Toronto. Click here

Finding Solutions for Homeless (Canada). Click here

Toronto’s Homeless Twitter Page. Click here

Toronto’s City Homeless Shelter. Click here

Toronto City’s Guide for Homeless. Click here

Toronto’s Covenant House (Shelter). Click here

Toronto’s Red Door Family Shelter. Click here

1st Stop Woodlawn Shelter for Women. Click here

 

♥♥ * Homeless Statistics ♥♥

The information below was taken verbatim from HomesFirst.ca

There are approximately 5,000 people in Toronto who are homeless, with nearly 3,200 people on the wait list for supportive housing.  The homeless are often victims of violence, suffer from poor health and nutrition and higher incidence of suicide.  Children, youth, Aboriginal people, new immigrants and refugees make up the segment experiencing the greatest growth.*

The chronically homeless, those who are homeless for 3 months or more, are the hardest to help as they are often also dealing with other issues such as addiction and mental illness.

Toronto also has a shortage in affordable housing. Many homeless rely on temporary shelters, emergency services or a friend’s hospitality.  Others live “rough” in the city’s parks, ravines and alleys.

Finding a safe, affordable place to live can be difficult.  Homes First is here to help.

Statistics:*

  • Number of low-income people in Toronto: 604,048
  • Annual income of a low-income adult: less than $20,778
  • Low-income people are most likely: visible minorities, recent immigrants and single parents
  • Annual income needed to afford a one-bedroom apartment: $38,000
  • Percentage of single parents who earn less than that: 55
  • Percentage of couples who earn less than that: 31
  • Percentage of singles who earn less than that: 69
  • Annual amount for a single person receiving Ontario Works: $7,104
  • Monthly shelter allowance of Ontario Works: $368
  • Number of households living in housing that is too small, needs repairs or is unaffordable: 1 in 5
  • Proportion of homeless people who want permanent housing: 9 out of 10
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