Understanding homelessness is key to solutions in Alberni

Public is encouraged to develop understanding about homelessness issues in the Alberni Valley.

Because the causes of homelessness are complex and wide-ranging, solutions to the problems associated with homelessness exist at a variety of levels. Our actions as individuals, community members and citizens can make a difference.

Here are a few suggested activities to help each citizen get started in addressing homelessness.

Develop understanding.

Many people turn a cold shoulder when they see a homeless person on the street. Some think that people are on the street because they choose to be there. Others find it difficult to see people suffering and aren’t sure how to respond.

This is why starting up a conversation with people on the street can be difficult, but we each have a lot to learn from doing just that. It’s true that some people will not want to engage with strangers, but others need to feel a sense that members of their community care about them.

Cultivate compassion and caring.

People who are homeless have stressed that tolerance, compassion, and empathy are important in their lives, and that a nurturing environment helps to create a community where homeless people feel a sense of belonging.

Many people who work with people who are homeless report that they have been changed by the experience.

Over time, people have a low regard for themselves and they’ve been through abusive situations so they treat their environment the same way.

They leave a disaster behind them and others in the community come into contact with it and that’s how conflict happens.

Not everyone can reach out and be understanding.

All of us need to be educated about homeless people so that we don’t stereotype them. Interacting with homeless people, teaches us to be more compassionate and understanding.

After all, many people are a paycheque away from homelessness themselves.

For more information on housing issues, please call 250-723-4050 to make an appointment.

 

This article was provided by Petra Barnfield, housing advocate with Kuu-us Crisis Line Society.