Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 29, 2008
Housing-first strategy offers dignity, hope
Archbishop Smith sits on leadership committee to end homelessness
By GLEN ARGAN
"Home speaks of relationships.”
- Archbishop Smith
Smith maintained developing a better approach to dealing with the homeless is not primarily a financial matter.
“This is simply the right thing to do. These are our brothers and sisters on the street.”
The mayor’s committee estimates that about 2,600 people in Edmonton can be classified as homeless.
That is just not acceptable, said the archbishop. “You cannot sit back and be satisfied with the status quo.”
Chris Leung, executive director of Catholic Social Services, is a member of one of the subcommittees established by the leadership group.
Leung told the WCR there are really no good statistics about the homelessness problem Edmonton.
The problem is not just a matter of those who are currently homeless, but also those who are on the edge of becoming homeless due to high housing costs in the city or for other reasons, he said.
CSS already provides housing for some people who are potentially homeless, those affected by fetal alcohol syndrome or by physical disabilities, he said.
Leung lauds the housing-first approach of the homelessness committee. “It’s very different from what we did in the past.”
Once people are housed, social agencies will be better able to help them overcome some of the myriad challenges the homeless face — mental health concerns, drug addiction, or physical disabilities and other health issues, he said.
The collaborative approach taken by the mayor’s committee to involve so many different sectors of the community has the potential to bear fruit, Leung said. “It’s very exciting because we have so many different parties working together toward a common goal.”
Archbishop Smith said it is important that members of the Christian community become involved in helping to end homelessness.
That, he said, is not simply a matter of solving a problem, but also of building a caring community.
“The idea of home is far deeper and far broader than having a place to dwell. Home speaks of relationships.”
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