Monday, August 26, 2013

No Homeless

No Homeless. Those are two words that you can take in two different ways. A few weeks back these words were spray painted on a local church. The church is looking to lease their land to an organization that wants to build an assisted living complex and many of the local residents are against it.

No Homeless. The other way to look at these words is in a positive way; the end of homelessness. There are several residents who support this project and it's encouraging to see as our city is in year 4 of a 10 year plan to end homelessness.

Since this program was announced it has been a heated debate. Many times I've had to walk away from the computer, put down my phone, or close my mouth for fear I'll upset friends I care about. The hardest part is that even though I use this community on a daily basis, I don't actually live in it. It makes me feel that I don't have as much of a say because no, it is not technically in my backyard. But I do want to say that it would be welcome in my backyard. Some may not believe me when I say this but it is true. Even my husband said he'd have no problem with it.


Because I had the privilege of working for an organization that helps the homeless through shelter, employment, education, and assisted living. I was able to see first-hand how amazing these programs are, the life-changing work they do, and the kindred souls who use these programs.

Did I start out feeling this way about the homeless and working poor? No. It took time, education, an open mind and an open heart.

I implore the people of this city to stop bickering, stop fear mongering, stop putting each other down; we are all in this together. Instead, let's take the time to get educated with an open mind and open heart.

There's many ways to educate yourself on those that need assisted living. The easiest way to get started is to read this blog from the Mustard Seed.  Specifically you can get started with an article from June 2012, written by a friend of mine called Why People Are Homeless and work from there.

Check out the link above under 10 Year Plan. It will give you tonnes of stats, and information about our city's 10 year plan to end homelessness. I also really like this page on Causes and Myths

If you want to dig a little deeper then call one of the local shelters and ask for a tour. It's 30 minutes - 1 hour out of your time that can help you to understand homelessness. I'd even suggest calling those with assisted living/transitional housing programs so you get an even clearer picture. Most of these organizations jump at the chance to show you the progress being made.

And if you really want the whole shebang ask one of these organizations if you can speak with someone who was formerly homeless. I dare you not to cry when you meet them and hear their story. Good tears, or sad tears, you will cry.

When working with the homeless one of my former bosses used to always say 'I hope to work myself out of a job'. I never forgot this as shouldn't this be the end goal of every non-profit? But to get to this point we, as a community, need to support one another. Let's try to make this a great city for everyone who lives here.

Take the time, educate yourself, open your mind, open your heart.


  1. Amazing Jody. What an awesome post. I love your passion and I wish others would see things as clearly as you. Thank you for opening your heart and for opening others' eyes.

  2. Thanks Jody! It seems such a simple & clear statement. I wish people would look more with their heart and mind. See things you.

  3. I like your article and share many of your ideas, but I would like to raise another point. I am a divorced single mother of 2. When I was first divorced, I left with nothing from the marriage and a lot of debt. Through the past 8 years I have worked 2 jobs to try and better myself and provide a nice home for my kids and correct our situation. I finally was able to save up enough money to buy a home in Terwillegar Towne which is situated close to the proposed facility site. What I am worried about is that the home that I worked so hard for may be worth less than what I paid before once the facility goes up. I don't know if that would be a permanent decrease in property value, but I believe at least for a few years it would affect it and continue to do so if there are any incidents. I support helping others less fortunate, but sometimes you affect others in doing so. Can I afford to lose $50,000 (or whatever the decrease would be)? No. Do I deserve to lose this money? No. Do you know how long it took me to save up and how hard I worked to buy this home? What if I have to sell my home and I am left in a deficit position. How is that fair? I tell you, many times it would have been easier to not make good choices for myself and my kids, but I continued to work hard and do the right thing without any help. It is very discouraging to think that I maybe be forced to step backwards.

  4. Cassie, it sounds like you've been through quite a lot and been very strong for your family. You deserve to live somewhere you feel proud of to call home. This possibly could still be Terwillegar for you, only time will likely tell.

    From all my research it seems that studies show affordable housing and assisted living have little to no impact on house costs. Good schools, attractive houses on nice tree-lined streets (like Terwillegar), and great access to major roads are always a big plus when looking for a home.

    My hope is that some day every community in Edmonton has assisted living or affordable housing. If every community was built this way then it wouldn't really make a difference where any of us lived, everyone would be in this together. Terwillegar is a start and hopefully, with our help, we can turn this into a really positive outcome.

  5. Thank you so much for writing this. It is a great post, and I am glad to have read it.

    Homelessness comes with so many faces. This is a group of people that needs help so badly, and my hope is that someday no person will be reduced to living under a bridge trying to survive an Edmonton winter. But my hope doesn't get us very far.

    Homelessness is a hard life. People without shelter suffer so much, and on average they die earlier than the housed. I don't want to see that. I want to see lives restored, and people regaining their dignity. To make that happen, we really have to start somewhere. I see building more affordable supportive housing as a place to start. And I love the idea of building it in a variety of neighbourhoods, because that gives those who have lost everything a chance to see that they are the same and have the same options as everyone else.

    Your past doesn't define you. I want everyone to have the best possible future.

    Thank you again for this post. It made me happy.