As we are now well into another summer of relaxation and fun, it can also be a time to step back from many of our regular meetings and other scheduled commitments and assess what we have done so far this year and how we may improve upon these actions in the fall season.

Homelessness is certainly a topic we hear and talk about a great deal in today’s world as there are many cities across North America that are trying to make the need for affordable, safe and secure housing a major component their future planning. The plight of those experiencing homelessness or being at risk of homelessness must be part of any discussion regarding solutions to the lack of such housing.

When we think about homelessness what are the pictures that first come our minds? We have likely all seen those who resort to some type of street begging with various signs pleading for help. It is easy finding people in our larger cities who are huddled in a doorway, under a bridge or on a street corner, quite often sitting there with their empty cup looking for whatever coinage passers by may drop off. We should also remember those individuals and families who are perhaps a month or two away from being without a home. We should remember those who are living in sub standard housing.

As we attempt to address the immediate needs of the homeless, I think is it essential to engage in a dialogue with those who are homeless. This may simply be stopping to say hi and listen to why a person is homeless. Hopefully, there is a more substantial opportunity to meet and listen to those who are homeless or living in precarious situations that can quickly lead to being homeless. It is important to seek and find those most vulnerable and to engage in discussions that enable us to take actions that can have a positive effect on homelessness. We should always take a holistic approach to these engagements with consideration given to the human dignity and overall well being of each person.

About the author:

Jim Paddon lives in London, Ontario, Canada and is past president of the Ontario Regional Council of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. He is currently chair of the National Social Justice Committee of the Society in Canada. He is married to his dear wife Pat and they have six daughters and eleven grandchildren. Jim has been a member of the Society since the 1970’s.

 

Opinions expressed are the author’s own views and do not officially represent those of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.


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