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.