To the Editor,
Certain religious folk believe their icon was born in a cattle shed, as there was no room at the inn for a homeless Palestinian couple who came to Bethlehem, possibly to take part in a Roman census.
Images of that nativity scene are symbolically prominent at this time of year, but real homelessness has reached a crisis point two millennia later.
A recent nationwide survey asserts that homelessness is caused by poverty, disability, addiction, mental illness or trauma, and on any given night about 30,000 Canadians sleep in charitable overnight accommodation, or in domestic violence shelters, or simply try and survive on the streets.
Another 50,000 are temporarily staying with friends or family, simply because there is nowhere else to go.
Surely, all levels of government need to work together, and think about creating permanent housing instead of the tent cities that have become prevalent in many communities. It would need a concerted effort to acquire disused public properties such as schools and hospitals across the country, then refurbish them into hostels for the homeless.
Ebenezer Scrooge changed his miserly ways, and cooked his Christmas goose in Charles Dickens’ wonderful tale of redemption. Now it’s time for all government agencies to say “What’s good for the goose, is good for the gander”, and put as much focus and resources on homelessness as is put in welcoming Syrian refugees.
In Montreal for example, a disused hospital has been reopened to facilitate medical check-ups for Syrian refugees arriving in Quebec.
Canadians will offer help to the homeless, just as they are doing for the refugees; charity begins at home, after all. It’s time to put some HO! HO! HO! into homelessness.