Listen to your neighbours

GRAPHIC BY NATASHA O’NEILL / EIC

If you’re a student at the Laurier Brantford campus,  you’ve come to realize that the streets of our campus are all too familiar with homelessness. 

It’s easy to ignore the many unfortunate and sad stories around us and much harder to listen tolet alone understandthese neighbours of ours. It’s easy to stereotype and much harder to humanize. 

According to the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, there were at least 186 homeless in Brantford as of 2018. Unprecedented rates of addiction and rental prices are just two of many factors that are responsible for the homeless crisis observed today. 

Unfortunately, those in our city who struggle to make ends meet often find relief from anxiety and work-related stress in highly addictive escapes. These escapes take many different forms; whether it be the casino or the needle. 

Toronto’s ever-rising housing and rental prices have driven up demand in Hamilton and Brantford as more and more residents of the GTA fond housing westward; down the highway corridor. When students, young professionals and families are having a hard time finding housing and rental options, it’s hard to be a hopeful homeless individual struggling with unemployment.

Just last month, Brantford opened the Winter Warmth shelter downtown in the old police station to stem the flood of homeless in the area. The closure of a tent city of homeless friends self-titled Love Camp, that was located just behind the newly opened shelter, forced Brantford to make an availability quickly. 

This means there’s somewhere warm to stay that can receive and administer food donations efficiently, but it doesn’t begin to patch together the frayed threads of the bigger picture. There are those looking to get out of the cold, those searching for a place to get their next high, and many finding both. 

The rates of overdose in Brantford give little hope that things will change at shelters like Winter Warmth unless better administrative structure and policies are implemented. Naturally, many homeless aren’t particularly fond of strict rules and rigid structure, for that matter, not many of us students are either. 

As the homeless crisis develops and solutions are tested, we wish to particularly focus on the people who are at the heart of the issue, those struggling and hurting, who just want to be heard. It’s only when we value all of our neighbours as human beings that we can begin to understand them as such.

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