Homelessness is more than simply a housing issue. It is also a social issue. Homelessness affects over 230 000 Canadians every year, and Moncton is not immune to this situation. But what makes Moncton unique is its community who thrives to do better and to be better.
Countless people and organizations have been created in the Greater Moncton Area to help those in need. The community is starting to understand the underlying issues that cause homelessness and to focus on what solutions we can provide for those problems.
Vincent Merola, City of Moncton’s Community Development Officer for Social Inclusion, works with existing programs to provide housing, education, inclusion, and food access.
Advocates such as Vincent Merola and Lisa Ryan spoke on the issue of homelessness and social inclusion to give residents a better idea of the situation.
“[Moncton] is growing substantially. […] There are a lot of positives to that growth, but along with that comes a lot of social issues. A lot of the issues stemming from homelessness is that the cost of living continues to go up. The average cost for a one bedroom in Moncton is over $700 a month. When you’re on social assistance, [you receive] $537 a month, so it makes it very difficult for people to find housing.”
“[Many cities] don’t take into consideration the struggles people are facing. When you’re homeless, you’re not allowed to collect social assistance. And on top of that, you can’t get a prescription card. Once you are experiencing homelessness, it’s really hard to get out of.”
Fortunately, there are many great agencies that exist in Moncton to provide assistance such as the YMCA ReConnect program, the Salvus Clinic, and the Greater Moncton Homelessness Steering Committee.
Community Development Coordinator Lisa Ryan plays an integral part in creating a community plan to help eradicate chronic homelessness in Greater Moncton.
“There’s a lot of underlying things in a person’s life that leads them into homelessness. A large majority of the folks we serve have been in foster care. Generally, kids are put into foster care because there was severe abuse or neglect that happened in their life. The issue is that those children are never given counselling to deal with the trauma that they’ve incurred.”
“It’s so complex. Once you’re in it, it’s really hard to get out […] because you don’t qualify to have your medication paid for, you don’t qualify for any kind of help. Everything in the system is created around healthy people, and we’ve neglected to really figure out how to bring [mental health] programs to people who are extremely vulnerable and who are living in very unhealthy situations.”
“The cycle needs to be broken. It’s going to take a lot, but I think the biggest thing we can do right now is to provide community to the people who are outliers. It’s really important that we understand that when [we] see ourselves in a community, [we’re] more apt to want to invest [our] time, [our] finances, [our] family resources, because [we] see [ourselves] there. We look for community. If our homeless population doesn’t see themselves in the community that we’re offering, they’re going to create their own.”
For social inclusion to truly exist, everyone needs to create an inclusive community to all. Not sure what you can do to help? Here are some suggestions:
- Say hello and get to know people’s names
- Buy someone a coffee or something to eat
- Donate money into Downtown Moncton’s Kindness Meters
- Volunteer at Homeless Shelters such as Harvest House and House of Nazareth
- Contact organizations such as Crossroads for Women, Youth Impact Jeunesse, and Alternative Residences Alternatives to ask how you can get involved.
What not to do:
- Ignore homeless people
- Shoo homeless people away
- Get mad at homeless people
For more information about homelessness and social inclusion, please feel free to search all of the above-mentioned groups and programs online.
As part of a multi-level approach with various partners, DMCI has once again installed Kindness Meters to help address the social issues present within Moncton’s downtown. They were installed to give people that may not be comfortable giving to a panhandler an alternative. The Kindness Meters act as a way to get the general public engaged on the issue of homelessness in our community. The funds donated will go to the YMCA Reconnect Street Intervention Program, an organization that is on-the-ground downtown helping the homeless population.
About the author :
Carmen LeBlanc is a writer from Cheticamp, Nova Scotia. Her blog Tiny Adventures Journey focuses on the environment, minimalism and travel. You can subscribe to her blog by following the link below, and you can also follow her on Facebook and Instagram.