“Home sweet home” is a phrase well known.
Yet, what is home for many isn’t home for all.
If you’re one of more than 200,000 people in Canada experiencing homelessness, you may never find yourself saying those words. What’s more, if you’re one of 1.5 million facing precarious housing, living in a space that is inadequate, unsuitable or unaffordable, there really is nothing sweet about it.
Most troubling, of course, is that seeing homeless people in this country’s urban areas is common place, while those without a home or at the very least access to shelter in rural areas largely go unnoticed.
Hidden homelessness is what this is typically known as, and it takes on all kinds of forms. It could be the doubling or tripling up of those living under the same roof (an added strain if this includes families of three or more), individuals “couchsurfing” daily, or those who find themselves living outdoors or in their car.
Dundas County residents are kidding themselves if they don’t think this is an occurrence here. That was the message from the Rural Ontario Institute during a forum in Chesterville last year.
Now, we’ve got Linking Hands’ recent housing survey shedding more light.
The facts show that many in the region are struggling to make rent or continue with mortgage payments as funds get swallowed up by increasing hydro and utility demands. Add to that fact that 70 per cent of respondents admittedly cannot afford home repairs, or that far too many people don’t have working smoke or carbon monoxide detectors.
It’s the cruel reality some are too stubborn to see.
The highlights come at the time when both the House of Lazarus and Community Food Share have partnered for the Hunger Awareness Challenge.
Some notable locals are living like a food bank client for one week in order to get an idea of how some in the area live on a daily basis.
Issues such as homelessness and food insecurity are very real in these parts.
Sure, it isn’t a matter of seeing someone sleeping on the street, or in Sweet
Corner Park in downtown Winchester. But there are roads throughout the countryside that are dotted by ramshackle dwellings, with broken down machinery pockmarking the properties.
Yes, these people have shelter, but it comes with sacrifices — pay the bill to keep the lights on or buy groceries, it can’t be both.
Isn’t it time that those who have refocus their efforts for the good of those who find themselves as have-nots?