Awareness of homelessness in Burnaby has changed drastically in the past ten years.
Ten years ago our educational displays at community events were met with polite suspicion and disbelief. Burnaby is a lovely place to live. It has been hard to imagine that in such a wonderful city there could be citizens living without the basics of a home, adequate food, clothing or access to basic necessities like washrooms, showers, laundry or medical care.
Through regular media coverage, continued displays at community events, presentations and increased support from the community, Burnaby citizens have become more aware of the impact of the lack of housing for Burnaby citizens.
Responses to our displays at community events are now focused on requests for assistance for friends, neighbors, relatives. There is acknowledgment from citizens who have been homeless, are currently homeless or struggle each month financially to keep their housing. We have been grateful for the generosity of citizens, faith communities, businesses and organizations who have actively supported this work in practical ways.
Burnaby is recognized as a city with an increasing number of citizens who are homeless and without the housing or services to help its citizens.
Citizens are increasingly angry and state that this situation is unacceptable.
Homelessness is unacceptable.
61% of the Burnaby citizens that were identified as homeless in the 2014 Homeless Count had been homeless for more than five years.
Forty two is the average age of a Burnaby citizen who has died as a result of the long term impact of extreme poverty and homelessness.
Each week we work with new people who are traumatized because they are now homeless.
Anyone can become homeless- women, men, children, youth, seniors, renters, home owners, business owners, persons from all economic backgrounds.
The leading cause of homelessness is poverty.
Concerns of low income residents increase significantly with the loss of low rental housing as it is very difficult to find safe, affordable housing within Burnaby.
Housing experts in the Society have followed best housing practices from other areas and have seen the widespread benefits of policies which replace one for one lost affordable housing.
The Society To End Homelessness in Burnaby believes that viable solutions for all Burnaby citizens to have safe and affordable housing are achievable only through collaboration and full commitment from all levels of government.
The Society To End Homelessness in Burnaby encourages the province, city and federal government to quickly work together to protect affordable housing in Burnaby, to create new affordable housing and in doing so to prevent an increase in homelessness.
The time for collaboration is now.