As the holiday season approaches, many of us have nostalgic thoughts of home. If we’re lucky – and many of us are – we remember happy childhoods spent with loved ones in cozy, comfortable homes.
But sadly, as the housing market changes, “Home Sweet Home” is becoming a fantasy for more and more people. Scenes of idyllic holiday celebrations are being replaced by the increasing stress of trying to pay rent without skimping on necessities like food and transportation.
Today is National Housing Day – an opportunity to draw attention to today’s harsh reality that housing costs are rising while vacancy rates are falling.
On any given night, 35,000 Canadians are homeless. Some go to emergency shelters, others turn to friends for help (“couch surfing”). The most desperate sleep in their cars, in doorways or on park benches. Youth are particularly vulnerable. In our region, an estimated 1,000 young people are living on the streets. As another cold Canadian winter closes in, the tragedy of their situation becomes even more poignant.
United Way Halton & Hamilton recognizes the urgency of this issue. We have helped create the first ever National Poverty Reduction Strategy and National Affordable Housing Strategy.
While these broad-based and ground breaking plans move forward, we continue to invest United Way donor dollars in local programs. Those programs help people in need – young and old, individuals and families, in Halton and Hamilton – find affordable housing and other services that will enable them to live comfortably.
In this season of giving, I encourage you to remember those in our community, who will not be able to pay their bills at the end of the month; who will be forced to make tough choices during the holiday time and throughout the year. Who can only dream of someday having a safe and affordable place to live.
Your gifts to United Way are connecting them to the supports they need to prosper, sharing with them the comfort and joy that comes with Local Love.
President & CEO