The Safe At Home Society will issue calls to action next week as numbers continue to rise on the society’s by-name list.
The list is made up of people experiencing homelessness who have requested to be added to it to receive housing.
“We’re feeling like we can’t get ahead,” Safe At Home executive director Kate Mechan said in an Aug. 4 interview.
Record numbers from June showed 65 children under the age of 16 on the list, along with a total of 201 households and three youth between the ages of 16 and 24.
As a voluntary list, the numbers do not represent the entire homelessness situation in the territory. In particular, Mechan said, there are more youth experiencing homelessness than on the by-name list.
She described the situation as not just being about the housing crisis, but said there’s “a whole lot of crises” that have reached a pinnacle, including the opioid crisis, affordability and more.
And it seems like resources are not being used which could help keep people housed.
Mechan said next week’s release of the calls to action will look beyond bricks and mortar to address housing and keeping people housed.
“We’re failing families and we’re failing kids,” she said, pointing to statistics that show being homeless as a child is linked to more traumatic outcomes later in life.
As officials see more chronic homelessness — defined as being homeless for six months in one year or three times over three years — and more people losing their housing, Mechan said there needs to be more wrap-around services that continue to provide supports after housing is in place.
She also highlighted potential for a family shelter concept and argued evictions due to arrears, or unpaid rent, is a barrier for many. She suggested such evictions should be banned.
As she pointed out, unforeseen circumstances — a family illness or death, vehicle expenses and others — can result in the money not being there to pay the rent for those on a low or fixed income.
Mechan suggested rather than allowing for evictions due to arrears, a rental support system be put in place that could be accessed in times of crisis to ensure those evictions don’t happen while also ensuring landlords are paid.
The release of the calls to action next week are intended to rally the community on the homelessness crisis.
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