We need a community approach to homelessness

We need a community approach to homelessness The Yukon government deserves praise for announcing the development of a housing action plan last March. The need for a plan recognizes the critical challenge of having adequate, appropriate and affordable ho

The Yukon government deserves praise for announcing the development of a housing action plan last March. The need for a plan recognizes the critical challenge of having adequate, appropriate and affordable housing options available for all Yukoners.

It will be a 10-year plan under the leadership of Yukon Housing Corporation. The three action pillars for building such a plan are affordable home ownership, affordable rental housing and housing accommodation with additional services.

Three working committees are being formed with an overarching community advisory committee. All those involved to date acknowledge that if the housing action plan is to be successful, it has to be a community plan with measurable targets that involves all stakeholders.

The Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition strongly feels that there has to be a good understanding and focus in the plan on the needs of the most vulnerable among us.

Kate Mechan recently completed a study for the coalition called “Enriching Our Understanding of Homelessness in Whitehorse,” thanks to funding from the Community Development Fund. In that report, she states “we are now better equipped to develop effective solutions to end homelessness in Whitehorse. If we step up our coordination and stand together with the united vision of ending homelessness, the development and implementation of a clear plan to end homelessness is well within our reach.”

You can learn more by going to the coalition’s website, at www.yapc.ca, or calling us at 334-3917. Kate is happy to present her findings to anyone who is interested – your church group, your class, your neighbourhood association, your government, your business, your organization or your colleagues.

If we understand the issues surrounding homelessness better, we as a community can take a new approach. Standing together and having a united vision require us to think seriously about our community and our community values.

Peter Block, a community developer, puts it this way: “We are in community when we find a place to belong, to be a part of something, to be ‘home.’ We are in community when we know, even in the middle of the night, we are among friends and not feeling isolated. We are in community when all of us, not just some of us, have a sense of ownership and accountability for this place, our home.”

Let’s learn about and focus on the needs of the homeless and be a better community for it.

Bill Thomas

Chair, housing task force

Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition