Welcome to Homelessness Action Week (HAW) 2021!

This year HAW takes place all week from Oct. 11 – 17. As usual, The Society to End Homelessness in Burnaby will be holding a special HAW Connect event on Thursday Oct. 14, 2021.

Service Providers from the Burnaby community have come together to provide special services for our guests during this week’s special Outreach Resource Centre, including a special pancake breakfast, flu shots by Fraser Health, lunch by Saints Nicholas & Dimitrios Greek Community Church, and sandwiches & goodie bags by Deer Lake United Church and St. Alban’s Anglican Church.

In the Community

In this month’s Burnaby Beacon, our Events Coordinator Summer Student Abhi Gill has written an opinion piece on Homelessness we’d like to share below:

Opinion: Homelessness in Burnaby is not an issue we can silence

With the federal election once again making headlines, is there hope for the voiceless? 

Tonight, more than 300 Burnaby citizens will sleep in the streets because they lack a place to call home. They will come together in city parks, seek shelter under a bridge or in stairwells, parking lots, and perhaps even pitch tents in Burnaby’s many green spaces, all the while anxiously awaiting for the merest of space to open up in Burnaby’s only temporary shelter.

Whether they are completely lacking a place to live or struggling to pay rent, their lives are falling apart. The fight to stay healthy was only magnified with the onset of the pandemic and now the struggle continues with the increasing cost of living in Burnaby. Not only is there a desperate need for more housing, but the leaders of our country also need to commit to protecting and fighting for our most vulnerable citizens.

With the federal election once again making headlines, is there hope for the voiceless? I would like to think so. There’s always room for improvement and here’s how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can commit to permanent solutions rather than relying on emergency aid: The rising grocery prices are affecting families all across the region, but for the ones who live at the poverty line, things just went from bad to worse. The returning prime minister can help by capping the prices of necessary grocery items such as eggs, milk, rice, and certain fruits and vegetables. These are basic foods that provide sustenance and should not be exploited for the utmost profit. Perhaps implementing a food stamps program, that’s accepted by all major grocery store chains, might be a long-term vision but leaders can start helping now by making basic goods affordable for everyone.

Furthermore, Trudeau and his team can support the vulnerable by addressing the drug addiction issues Burnaby’s streets continue to face day and night. A large proportion of the homeless population struggle with different types of pain and PTSD associated with various events experienced by individuals. And for some, drugs seem to be an escape. Whether this can be addressed by implementing a mental health program, more harm reduction strategies (clean needles, safe access, etc) or more drug rehabilitation services, the wave of drug-related deaths requires the attention it demands by all levels of government.

The biggest and perhaps the most important contribution our government representatives can make is to prevent more of our citizens from becoming homeless. Currently, many people are considered rent-poor and on the verge of eviction. What that means is, although they are doing what they can to make ends meet, the burden of increasing rent is decreasing their quality of life. Of course, the pandemic didn’t help; causing families to fall further behind on their bills and other responsibilities. We did, however, see some form of rent assistance at the start of the pandemic but if that becomes a permanent resource, the chances of more citizens becoming unhoused would significantly decrease.

Simply put, homelessness in Burnaby, along with other metropolitan regions, is not an issue we can silence, especially when the chances of someone being forced to live a life on the streets increases with every passing day. We cannot have another 4 years pass by with homelessness placed on the backburner. We cannot simply acknowledge the problem without committing to the good fight.

—By Abhi Gill 

Foundations for Social Change

Foundations for Social Change has been awarded a grant from the City of Vancouver for Homelessness Action Week. Grants are awarded to projects using creative approaches to increase community awareness of homelessness and build a greater understanding with community members of all backgrounds on solutions to homelessness.

Working with their Lived Experience Advisory Panel, they are using Participatory Narrative Inquiry to bring different people together to share their experiences and stories, engage in dialogue, challenge their mental models about homelessness and devise new ideas for alternative action.

They are inviting stories, experiences and perspectives from everyone. You can submit your experience on their webpage here.

As a part of Homelessness Action Week, they are also holding a workshop on Thursday 14th October 4-6 pm PT inviting audiences from across Vancouver (and beyond) to come together, engage in these stories, ask new questions and think about how to increase empathy in supports and solutions around homelessness.

Burnaby Community Fridge

The Burnaby Community Fridge is ready for you!

Based on similar programs in Canada and around the world, the Burnaby Community Fridge Program (initiated by Burnaby Primary Care Networks) will provide something many people in our community need most – food. 

The Community Fridge Program provides this in a safe, low barrier and non-judgmental way. It provides a place for people in our neighbourhoods to give and take, to reduce waste and feed their children better. It builds and enhances our food security in Burnaby.

The first location is outside the Burnaby Youth Hub at 4750 Imperial St. Please go and check it out, and feel free to take something or leave something! 

Follow the fridge at @burnabyfridge on Instagram, and stay tuned for more details!

We hope that the community of Burnaby comes together once again during this year’s Homelessness Action Week to help us care for our most vulnerable neighbours and End Homelessness!