A Port Hope resident, Laura, and her family have been on journey they hadn't planned to take when they welcomed a young man into their home a few months ago. They've had a series of lessons in the painful reality of homelessness, here in Northumberland:
I have chosen to share this picture today to tell you a story. While you can’t see the owner of the shoes, he does exist – his name is Kyle. This is Kyle’s long board (his method of transportation if weather permits), and his “kicks” … bought recently to replace his very old and worn out shoes …
Kyle is homeless. Kyle lives mostly in my son’s top bunk bed … he has waited over 3 months to find housing here in Port Hope … he is one of our invisible homeless … this is part of his story, which he has permitted me to share with you today ...
"After struggling with homelessness and unemployment (or very little employment) in Kingston, I relocated to Port Hope in November of 2015, believing I was going to have a home with my father for December 1st. There was no place for me to stay until December 1st – until the Steen family offered me a temporary solution. I am very grateful for their kindness.
While I have been here looking for permanent housing, I have been caught in 3 vicious cycles … and I believe these would be common to many in my situation
Cycle 1 – no job, no permanent home; no permanent home, no job. This is a frustrating cycle for someone who is trying to make changes in their circumstances. I need a job to have a home, and I need to have a home (a permanent address) to have a job … Talk about being hungry for a change in your life …
Cycle 2 – no references, no apartment; no apartment, no references. Even though we explain our situation, no private renter will approve us for accommodation. We don’t qualify without references. And we cannot gain references by remaining homeless. Talk about hurting …
Cycle 3 – this is perhaps the most difficult cycle of all … you have a small glimmer of hope for an accommodation – maybe through a discussion, or an “I’ll call you soon.” from the landlord … but, no call comes, you call back, the property is rented, or worse, they just don’t want to rent to someone in your circumstances, someone wearing shoes like mine. So you move from hope to despair … and are caught in this cycle with each little glimmer that makes itself known. Talk about hopeless …
I would change my circumstances if I could, and I am working on it; but these cycles make it terribly difficult. I am working within a system that has so many gaps. I look around and see space in town not being used at all … large, empty space … yet, I don’t receive enough money to be able to afford a single room. I am on every rent geared to income housing list, but there is a wait of at least 18 months. Landlords ask for money just to make an application … yes, they take advantage of our desperation.
I have been grateful to connect with Tower Inn and Green Wood Coalition … they understand those gaps, they understand my circumstances, they offer me community – they see me … but they can’t work miracles … it’s a difficult system .. and the uncertainty for me seems endless. So I struggle on, not knowing from one day to the next whether this may be the day that I find housing … that my Dad and I can begin to be a family … with space of our own … a place to kick off our shoes, and call our own …"