Elmira Independent Editorial
It’s a terrible time of the year to be homeless.
While the vast majority of us have been bemoaning the bitter cold and all of its inconveniences — scraping off the car windshield in the morning, finding one more layer to wear on your way out the door — for some, this time of year can be deadly.
And while there are numerous programs in place to help the homeless on the coldest days, such as the Kitchener-Waterloo Out of the Cold program, it can be argued that not enough is being done to tackle the issue of homelessness.
Go to any urban community in this country, and you will find them — the men, women, and youth that are out on the street, shivering in the cold, seeking a handout.
While some of them do have places to stay, many of these homes are less than ideal. Couch surfing can only go so far — when you run out of friends to call, you run out of couches.
The problem of homelessness is, of course, complex. There are many reasons why people end up on the streets — violent, unstable homes, mental illness, or simple poverty, an inability to keep ahead of the bills.
But while there are many reasons for homelessness, there are also many possible solutions.
More needs to be spent on affordable housing — homes that don’t require two-thirds of a person’s monthly income, that are warm, comfortable and safe.
More needs to be done to support mental health services, providing everything from counselling to in-depth care, both in outpatient clinics and with hospital beds.
More needs to be done to combat drug and alcohol abuse, as well as to deal with the ever-present spectre of family violence.
And more needs to be done to lend those helpful moments of support, the kind that will make a difference in the lives of those who are struggling.
In Woolwich Township, we are blessed with a community that truly cares, in so many ways, for those who are less fortunate.
A case in point was the launch of the Lunch Crunch program, a program that will help low-income families provide the healthy, nutritious lunches that their children need, each and every day.
It’s programs such as these, which have been generously supported by the Steelworkers Local 13691, as well as Trylon, that can make all the difference to a family that is struggling. With less money spent on food, there is more money for shelter, for heat, for warm clothing — all necessities during this difficult time of year.
We all have a role to play in combating homelessness, as well as the poverty that can lead to it.
Thanks to Woolwich Community Services, Trylon, and the Steelworkers Union, for reminding us of this truth.