A homeless person is someone without a home, right?
Though a hard question to answer, this is the most basic definition of homelessness, and it is often equated with living on the streets or in a shelter.
Homeless people are a very diverse group and their stories are complex: it takes more than just wood and nails to make a “home.” For each homeless person, there are always different societal and personal issues involved in their situations—no two persons’ stories are alike!
It can be helpful to categorize different “levels” of homelessness:
- Absolute homelessness—using private or public shelters; sleeping in public or other places not intended for human habitation.
- Concealed homeslessness—temporarily housed with friends of family; unable to afford adequate housing.
- Inadequate or substandard housing—people who are at risk of becoming homeless through health hazards, eviction, inability to pay rent, or other reasons.
At DMC, we encourage congregations to think beyond charity to include justice and advocacy as part of their response to homelessness. There are many resources available to help Christians interact and love their homeless neighbours.
- Citizens for Public Justice, who advocate for a poverty-free Canada.
- Inn from the Cold, an organization that offers shelter, sanctuary, and healing through an integrated continuum of services, including: emergency shelter, instrumental needs, primary medical care, case management, therapeutic early childhood programming, supported housing, and an open door policy to all in need.
- Covenant House Toronto, a homeless youth support agency that hopes to educate and advocate for change to help at-risk, homeless and trafficked youth by influencing public policy and delivering prevention and awareness programs.
- The Compassion Series, a multifaceted social justice program supported by Youth Unlimited. It is designed to inspire, challenge and educate children and youth, and to support and encourage parents and educators on topics related to justice and compassion.
- Habitat for Humanity Canada, a national, non-profit, faith-based organization working towards a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live.
- Raising the Roof, a national charity dedicated to finding long-term solutions to homelessness.
- The Homeless Hub, a web-based research library and information centre to address the need for a single place to find homelessness information from across Canada.
Other Online Resources (blogs, vlogs, documentaries, etc.)
- Invisible People, a blog and video-blog run by a man who used to be homeless. It hosts real, raw interviews with homeless people and intends to help those of us who aren’t homeless to connect with our homeless neighbours through storytelling.
- Without a Roof, a 30-minute documentary on homelessness filmed in Toronto.
- Unheard Voices, a documentary produced by Mike Yam and the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, is a film that follows the footsteps of seven homeless people who have spent years on the streets of Toronto. 2010.
- The Homestretch, a feature-length documentary that follows three homeless teens as they fight to stay in school, graduate, and build a future.
- The “Research Matters” blog, which focuses on the research and statistics of homelessness. Excellent infographics.
Books (with links to Amazon.ca):
- Beyond Homelessness: Christian Faith in a Culture of Displacement by Brian Walsh and Steven Bouwma-Prediger
- Sidewalks in the Kingdom by Eric Jacobsen
- Under the Overpass by Mike Yankoski
- Disrupting Homelessness: Alternative Christian Approaches by Laura Stivers