The end of summer is upon us, and with it reduced numbers of tourists. But thinning tourist crowds reveal a population that builds as the cooler weather approaches: the homeless.
Being homeless does not simply mean being without a roof over your head today.
Hundreds of Coast residents are one scant pay cheque away from being unable to pay rent. They are homeless. Many hundreds of our fellow citizens couch surf. They move from friend to friend, couch to couch, on a weekly basis. They are homeless. Women fleeing abusive relationships, often with kids in tow; they are homeless. Kids shuttled back and forth between marginally employed parents; they are homeless.
I am an innkeeper, and I see it all. I get the midnight knocks on my door from good folks looking only for a place safe and warm. I hear the stories of bad landlords. I see desperate moms on rainy nights, kids wrapped in wet blankets. I get folks out of hospital or jail, just asking for a chance.
I do what I can, but I run a place of business. However, my soft heart joins me with good company — Matt at the Salvation Army, Clarence Li at St. Hilda’s Church, the Rotary Club, Rev. Janis Young at St. John’s Church in Davis Bay, E.M. at Vancouver Coastal Health, Jim White at Arrowhead … we all do what we can on a volunteer basis for the homeless among us. But what we do is only a Band Aid solution.
The real solution to our homelessness problem must involve local governments. It is entirely within the remit of all Coast governments to make homelessness and affordable housing a social priority.
Therefore, I challenge all Coast governments to make Tuesday, Oct. 1, Homelessness Hope Day.
Hugh Macaulay, Sechelt