Home is essential

The leaves and temperatures are dropping. You huddle against your coat, rub your hands and ears knowing that feeling chilled is only temporary, because soon, you will be home, feeling that sense of relief, as you’re wrapped in warmth, until you step outdoors into the chilled air again.

For far too many individuals and families in Edmonton, there is no home. Or maybe there is one, but it’s not safe, stable or secure. In an effort to highlight this critical issue, every November for more than a decade, numerous Edmonton and area organizations, including management bodies, funders, housing providers, and social service agencies, have come together to raise awareness of the need for and importance of safe, suitable, accessible and affordable housing for all.

Movement is happening.

Here at home, the City works closely with its partners on a ‘Homeless on Public Lands’ committee to coordinate actions in identifying encampments on public lands, building relationships with people who are experiencing homelessness — making every effort to connect them to the supports and services they need.

Further, in collaboration with Homeward Trust, the City has played a leading role in developing plans and strategies to address homelessness and to create awareness of the Affordable Housing Strategy. Plans that provide the foundation for this work include the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness, and the Community Strategy to End Youth Homelessness in Edmonton.

Both the federal and provincial governments are developing housing strategies, which are a necessary first step in clarifying and reinvigorating their commitments to addressing housing and homelessness.

And across the country, municipalities and communities are having crucial conversations and providing input into the National Housing StrategyLet’s Talk Housing. The City, in partnership with Edmonton Coalition on Housing and Homelessness, conducted three community conversations with youth, seniors and residents of cooperative housing that offers homecare.

When participants were asked what home means to them, here’s what they said:

Having privacy and a place to feel safe and warm

Stable and safe: I don’t have to move because I cannot afford to live here or the landlord kicks you out because the building is being closed

Somewhere you feel safe and not worry about outside world

Permanent, accessible, affordable

Source of pride – you feel okay to have guests

Have help to do laundry, housekeeping and other chores, if needed

Knowing the name of neighbours

My independence

Walking distance from my school, work or shops

A place for people to stay together

Aging in place

Let’s face it: homelessness is complex and there is no easy solution. But what we do know is providing housing solutions and options for people in need of safe, secure housing creates a better community and city for all citizens. It’s more than a roof over one’s head. Home is a place where individuals and families grow and thrive and provide stability, hope and comfort. A safe, secure home is the foundation for someone to build a better life.

Join the movement and help reshape the negative perceptions of supportive and affordable housing developments into something positive!

Education, security, social and mental health, physical well-being and great citizenship begin at home. To find ways to get involved with the various activities and events taking place over the month of November in support of housing month, visit housingmonth.ca.

Transforming Edmonton will be featuring a series of blogs over the month of November to raise awareness of Housing Month. Next week will highlight efforts related to affordable housing in Edmonton.