Green Wood provides assistance to many people who are homeless, according to the Canadian Definition of Homelessness created by the Homeless Hub at York University. That definition describes a spectrum that ranges from living without any shelter, on one end, to insecure housing, on the other end. For those living on that spectrum, there are common anxieties as well as a shared powerlessness to change one's circumstances.
"The problem of homelessness and housing exclusion refers to the failure of society to ensure that adequate systems, funding and support are in place so that all people, even in crisis situations, have access to housing."
-Canadian Homeless Research Network
While we don't see a high number of people in the category of 'absolute' or 'street' homelessness, the people in our community who do fall into that group are particularly vulnerable due to their invisibility, and to the lack of services available that could address their need.
We've been working with one such individual this month (a particularly cold and snowy winter to be outside), and finding safe shelter for him has been particularly frustrating. Contrary to what one might think, there is a cost to not providing housing for people.
In spite of living outdoors (yes in February, in Cobourg, Ontario) for one week, couch-surfing (not as much fun as it might sound) for two weeks, the cost of assisting this person, with a patchwork of emergency shelter situations, exceeded $900 this month. That money came from government sources as well as community-funded organizations like Green Wood Coalition, and doesn't include the working hours of various social service providers.
Along with the members of the Northumberland Affordable Housing Committee, we are actively working to define the needs of homeless people in our community, and to seek creative solutions that will bring peo