Viewpoints – What people think about Homelessness in Vancouver

14 06 2009

make good ideas happen!

I am a firm believer in the amazing power of human collaboration and while thinking about ideas for how to alleviate homelessness, for inspiration I decided to take a look at the over 100 comments which people left on the inov8 website. I think that good ideas don’t just come out of nowhere, and require revision and feedback from many people. So in order to “Make Good Ideas Happen!”, I would like to share just some of the many comments which people have shared about the homelessness issue. Feel free to add your views below, and take a look at the other comments by clicking here.

Sandy Burpee, Chair of the Tri Cities homelessness task force:

The causes of homelessness are well known, as are the solutions – the factors which continue to sustain it in Metro Vancouver are worth studying. I believe that public perceptions and attitudes have a lot to do with it. Homeless persons are often seen as objects, rather than persons that need compassion and support, not judgment and censure. The interweaving between homelessness and addiction just exacerbates this negative perception. Public censure just widens the gulf between homeless persons and the community, increasing their social isolation. BTW, I am chair of the Tri-Cities Homelessness Task Group.


I also agree that the level of homelessness in “our own backyard” is totally unaceptable. Not only do we need to rely on our elected officials to take action (and we can impact that through voting), we need to look for ways of involving many more members of our communities. I also agree that we need to take action and support initiatives that will really make a difference. In my view a huge part of the problem relates to our lack of programs and support for those suffering from mental illness. Thank you for your efforts!


Blaming homeless people for being what they are will not solve the issue. Many of us say they are what they are because they are lazy, do not want to help themselves, and rely on other people for help, etc. In our complex world now, we are sometimes thrown into a situation which we have no control over and we need the support and help from our community to survive. We all have consistently turned a blind eye to this particular issue and it is sad that no one has taken them seriously. I have personally interacted with a few of them and it is sad to hear their story of how they have become this way. And I have also witnessed that given the proper tools and support, many of them have been productive to society. “The test of our progress is not whether or how we can add more to the abundance of those who have much, but whether we can provide enough for those who have little and need help.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt


Hi, Great topic, here’s my opinion. Maybe one question to address is: How do they get there to live on the streets? Is it because of financial reason or health issues? What I find frightening is that there are more & more families with children living on the streets too. How can a middle class family make ends meet in Vancouver, it is an expensive city to live in. How can a working middle management afford a 2 bedroom apartment in Vancouver? Middle class is getting poorer by the day, salaries don’t follow the rate of living. Unfortunately income doesn’t increase as quickly, therefore families & people may end up on the streets. The gap between rich people and middle class is widening up. While walking in Gastown I saw homeless people with animals and speaking French fluently. Showing that these persons are bright, have the ability to love and learn. They have the right to be treated with dignity & respect. Perhaps given the needed resources they would lead a productive life. People tend to stereotype homeless persons as addicted “nobodies”, that don’t deserve a second look or chance. Getting back to my question how do they get there? If it is not financial then it may be for mental health issues. Our government with its good ideas of saving money has deinstitutionalized people with mental issues that with a regular follow-up and medication can lead a good life but instead cause of lack of resources and monies theses persons are left to fend for themselves alone on the streets cause social & community organizations lack the necessary resources to help these persons. Too often unfortunately people with mental problems are not kept in hospitals therefore end up on the streets.




7 responses

14 06 2009

When you stated “Homeless persons are often seen as objects, rather than persons,” I immediately sided with you. I also enjoyed reading what others had to say-couldn’t agree more. My concern is along the same lines…why isn’t more being done by the government or city officials. I am a U.S. citizen who has volunteered to help homeless when the opportunity is given..but there should be more opportunites openly displayed via media.

14 06 2009

Thanks for your comment cashowal. I’m thinking of solutions to homelessness right now – I know many people who want to help, but just need the opportunity. Do you find it hard to find volunteer opportunities for homelessness, or initiatives that you want to support? I might try modeling something after the Modest Needs website, in order to help connect people who want to help, with the homeless and opportunities to help.

14 06 2009

I find that there are opportunites if you go to a local shelter or church, but I am wondering how to find the homeless who are suffering from illnesses or self-esteem problems that they do not seek “commercial” help. I have in the past gone into a nearby city with a team of youth from my church and sought out homeless on the streets and in public transportation…But I feel more groups should be formed to participate in activities like this…thanks for the link!

14 06 2009

I agree with you, it’s extremely important for us to reach out to the homeless. It’s so easy for them to get disconnected from society. Going to the streets and visiting them and just listening to them is a good way to show them that we care.

14 06 2009

I have been homeless and today i know and see the homeless in a high concentration, in the shelters in the dtes. A room mate of mine was also homeless for almost a year he himself spent two hundred and sixty days in shelters, the common link for me and most of the dtes my friend and many of my friends who were homeless, is addiction and the race to get high at any cost. Even to ruin our lives we have no problem admitting this yes we lost control of our lives we were unable to hang on to most of our life skills we chose to slowly deteriorate into our addiction and the life that comes with it. This no mystery to me or my friends the homeless problem as it exists today here in Vancouver is partly because of choices these people have or have not made, there will always be those who no matter what you do they are unable to take care of themselves. With me and the choices i made in the past addiction ruled. Today it no longer does but i see for the most part the majority of the shelters today are full of people who choose addiction for now because we have support services that take care of you no matter what we do. In my opinion this is keeping people with there hands open instead of being accountable with there lives and seeking the right support to change there lives. ONCE WAS HOMELESS AND ADDICTED

14 06 2009

Thanks for the comment homeless champions. That is a worry of mine too – that we want to help people who are homeless, but we also don’t want to make their lives so comfortable that, as you said, they know that they will be taken care of by support services no matter what they do. What do you think we should do – would you encourage people to continue donating and volunteering for support services?

Once a homeless person gets past their addiction, what do you think are the biggest barriers to get a place to live after that? How easy is it after that?

Thanks for sharing your views, and congratulations on overcoming your past addiction, that’s an amazing that that you are able to speak of.

14 06 2009

HEY ME AGAIN just so you know i have done a lot of research about the homeless condition we have here in Vancouver. If you want a full perspective i have a website that show’s a fairly balanced portrayal as it is today. I also have a blog site link on the top of my homepage, the site speaks of the huge relation between the homeless and addiction as seen in the dtes. Yes i have a personal view on solutions yes a lot of my stuff is offensive just so you know i also have a men’s house here in east van with six former resident’s of the dtes all have had and some still, problem’s with addiction . But today they are not homeless it is my life’s work now to reach out and help the addicted those who suffer i have found that awareness is a very helpful tool to combat the war on the poor and addicted thus my website i spend countless hours today responding to blogs and try to make a difference. If you do your homework you will see that i point out what is wrong throughout the site and my blogs. Once i believe we can point this out solutions are close by on the site, i have video interviews with former addicts who were homeless in this part of town for years and they like me and many others are living the solution here is the website link and a link to a video forum that has thirty videos in one group that has testimonies of those who have recovered again solutions are not always pretty. thank you editor@2010homelesschampions



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