Homelessness is a national socioeconomic crisis that is spiralling out of control. With thousands of displaced citizens in Vancouver alone, numbers have reached a fever-pitch — a decade-long high with little prospect for change.
According to the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security.” Yet, thousands every day struggle to feed themselves, face horrendous hate-based assault and violence, and must overcome a torrent of pressing diseases, mental health issues, and fatal drug overdoses. Existing infrastructure and support systems currently in place are overcapacity and overwhelmed, unable to handle the unprecedented immediacy of this crisis. Vancouver may rank as one of the most “livable” cities in the world, but that is clearly contradictory to the borderline-torturous conditions faced by the homeless.
Aside from the occasional front-page article, homelessness is an issue everyday Canadians hear about one day and forget about the next. The looming crisis is tossed around as a societal “hot potato”; constantly ignored and passed to those next in line. If citizens share the mindset that it is always someone else’s problem to deal with, who is left to step up for those who desperately need change?
The less fortunate are not degenerates or “bums” and the toxic stigma surrounding the homeless must no longer be allowed to continue. This stigma held against victims of homelessness is dangerously misconstrued, built on the basis of fear, disgust, and alienation. The vicious cycle ends here: today’s young leaders will not be the ones to make the next toss and will not perpetuate a long-held apathy and dangerous indifference.