No one should be left out in the cold.
Creative Commons, Tim Norris
There are some things in life over which we have no control. Homelessness is not one of them. We can't change where we were born or when, or have any say at all in how the Sun and the Moon move through the sky. In fact, one of the biggest challenges in life is figuring out exactly where we can make change happen. Despite the fact that homelessness is on the rise in our community, that many of our friends and neighbours may be one or two paycheques away from not being able to make a mortgage payment or pay the rent, we have the power to make homelessness a thing of the past.
The North Shore posts the third highest rate of youth homlessness in the Lowermainland. Most youth became homeless when they were kids.
The people we know who were homelessness now have strong careers. One of our friends, a graduate of our favourite West Vancouver elementary school, slept in her car for a year. Another friend found the only escape from violence in the home was to go to a shelter.
Today, the cost of housing is hitting the seniors in our community harder than most of us had expected, forcing many of them to choose how to stretch a fixed income over the costs of prescriptions, groceries, utilities and housing. The North Shore Shelter reports that, for the first time in its history, our elders are turning to the shelter for protection against homelessness. To put the scale of the demand in context, Lookout's North Shore Shelter provided 9,392 bed nights with 45 beds from April 1st to October 31st, 2016; over the same period, its Al Mitchell Shelter in the Downtown Eastside provided 9,861 bed nights with 46 beds.
The Dundarave Festival of Lights allows all of us to stand together, square up to the fact of homelessness, and end it one Christmas tree at a time. We do this work in two ways.
First, the Festival's "Forest of Miracles" raises charitable donations payable directly to the Lookout Emergency Aid Society's North Shore Shelter. These donations remain at work on the North Shore, and are used by the Lookout Society to fund permanent solutions to homelessness.
Second, by creating space for us to gather together the Festival allows our community to deepen our awareness of the reality of homelessness on the North Shore. This allows us to strengthen our relationships with each other, and to support each other and organize to find meaningful solutions to homelessness and housing insecurity.
This page has some challenging information about the facts of homelessness, because facing the facts is the first step in making some serious change happen.
Still Dying on the Streets
Karen O'Shannecery with Fanny Kiefer on Ending Homelessness
The Cost of Homelessness, by the Numbers: A Homeless Person Dies Every 12 Days in BC
Seniors Add to Homeless Numbers; Housing Worker Makes a Difference, North Shore News October 10, 2012
Homeless youth on the increase
By Jane Seyd, North Shore News, July 10, 2011
"[...] in a disturbing trend, the figures point to more youth under the age of 25 as homeless. Preliminary figures from the region-wide 2011 homeless count point to a 38 per cent increase in homeless youth on the North Shore compared to figures from 2008."
Millions of Canadians live in inadequate housing: Report
Requisiat in pacem. West Vancouver's Douglas Lalonde died in a shipping container fire on January 3rd, 2012
Capilano University's Communications Students Name the Problem of Homelessness on the North Shore, 15/xi/2011
At 104% Occupancy, Lookout's North Shore Shelter Provides More ‟Bednights" than its Downtown Shelter
From the Lookout Emergency Aid Society's 2011 Annual Report (Please see below for the complete report.)
_"1,215 North Shore seniors are thought to be in urgent housing need, spending more than half of their income on housing. This group, the study determined, are at immediate risk of becoming homeless. And still, it’s one of the North Shore’s fastest growing demographics."
COVER STORY: Faces of homelessness
By Todd Coyne - North Shore Outlook
Published: October 12, 2011 3:00 PM
Prince William homeless for a night
A cold alley in central London is a far cry from a palace, but it was the spot Prince William chose to sleep to highlight the plight of homeless British teenagers: