Toolkit - LIFT - Community Services

Action Toolkit

Information and tips for anyone who would like to show their commitment to addressing homelessness, because they believe in the fundamental right of every individual to have safe and secure housing, no matter their circumstances.

First, what's the problem?

Homelessness is when an individual or family does not have stable, safe, permanent, appropriate housing or the immediate ability to acquire it. People experiencing homelessness may be couch surfing or staying with friends, sleeping in cars, accessing emergency shelters, or sleeping outside in the bush, encampments, or in other public spaces.

Homelessness can happen to anyone at any age. The reasons for homelessness vary, and often include overlapping factors like:

Reasons for homelessness

In the 2023 qathet homelessness count, 126 people were identified as experiencing homelessness.  

50% were staying at someone else's place, 29% were living in a vehicle, 9% were in a makeshift shelter or tent, 40% were women, 60% were men, 9% were youth under 25, 74% were adults, 18% were seniors over 55, 10 identified as 2SLGBTQIA+, 2% identified as transgender, and 18% identified as Indigenous (compared to 6% of Census population).

These “point-in-time” counts are known to be an undercount and represent only those individuals identified during a 24-hour period.

For more information on homelessness see our Homelessness Fact Sheet.

Addressing the issue

What is being done already?

Some organizations taking action in qathet to date include:

Inclusion Homes: low-market and accessible housing

Kiwanis Village: low income, seniors’ subsidized, independent living community

Life Cycle Housing Society: affordable housing for individuals and families

PRESS: Housing Hope program for youth and families with children

Sunset Homes: subsidized and low-market housing for seniors

Lift Community Services: supportive housing program

 

What else can be done?

1. Increase awareness of the issue.

2. Increase understanding of factors that contribute to homelessness (see above) and compassion for those experiencing homelessness.

3. Increase the amount of affordable housing including low barrier supportive housing, subsidized housing, and population-focused housing for families, youth, and seniors.

 

Who needs to be influenced for this to change?

Getting support for an issue can happen in many ways, but often includes a mix of one or more of these elements:

Lobbying to directly influence decision-makers; Campaigning to support action by the public; media and communications to promote the issue.

 

How can YOU take action?

1. Follow Lift Community Services on social media and share our success stories and information.

Why? Every person has a sphere of influence. If you share a story (on social media or any other way), then this  can indicate to your connections that you support an issue or believe in something – like the right for all to have safe and secure housing. For someone who has never thought about homelessness, seeing/hearing you – someone they know – comment or share, might make them think about the issue a bit differently or even for the first time!

Check us out on Facebook and Instagram.

 

2. Write a letter to City Council. 

If you believe that finding more solutions to homelessness in our community is important then let our City Councillors know. This will give them a pulse on the public sentiment when important matters related to housing are brought to Council. 

Elements of a good letter: 

a) Explain why you are writing

b) Explain why you care (anything personal to share? Know someone?)

c) Any stats or facts to share?

d) Explain what you are asking for

Click here for a letter template. 

Here is the City of Powell River’s Mayor and Councillor Directory

Please consider cc’ing Lift in your letter/email.

 

3. Write a letter to the Minister of Housing or BC Housing

See our letter template above.

Click here to learn more about the joint responsibility across all levels of government.

 

4. Write an article or letter to the editor for a local newspaper or magazine about homelessness

Share your own experience of being unhoused or a success story of someone who overcame homelessness. People often prefer to hear from community members (particularly those with real-life experiences) rather than those affiliated with an organization. This is known as the “third-party effect,” where neutral voices are perceived as more trustworthy and objective.

Here are some key messages about homelessness to support your writing.

Letters to the editor can be a powerful tool because they are the second most read section in a newspaper (after the first page). They are an effective way to call attention to an issue.

Try to keep your letter to under 250 words and use short paragraphs or key points when possible.

 

5. If you are informed, explain to a friend the realities of poverty and homelessness.

 

6. Show compassion. If you see someone struggling – say hello. Everyone deserves to be seen.

What moves you to take action?

Here’s a real story of change…we hope it inspires you. 

John holding his cat.

John was three days away from being homeless when he moved into Supportive Housing in the fall of 2020.

“At first I guess I was judgmental myself, because I looked at who was living here,” John says. After his own history with substance use and legal issues, he was cautious about who he was spending time with and was worried that Supportive Housing would be a negative influence on him. “But when I moved here it wasn’t anything like I thought it was….it was people trying to better their lives. The people that (live here) are trying to change their lives.”

John’s lived in Powell River since he was 15. When the property he was living on was rezoned in 2020, he had to move out of the house he had been sharing with his brother and couldn’t find a place to rent. John moved into a friend’s house temporarily and when his friend had to move John had no where else to go.

“I don’t know what I would have done. I have a cat and [he] is the most important thing on this Earth to me. The thought of losing him or having to give him up for adoption put me in a huge depression and panic attacks. I was freaking out.”

John says he has felt “hugely supported” while living at supportive housing.

Shortly after moving in, John had some health challenges arise which caused him debilitating back pain and mobility issues. Staff supported John to get a medical bracelet, so they’d know if he needed help, and with their support John was eventually able to get a MRI and a diagnosis for his pain which has really helped his pain management and quality of life.  “The staff here have been there for me the entire time, happily helping me do my laundry or helping me clean my room. They work hard, so, you know, if you want to change your life, they help in any way that they can with resources and anything that’s needed, right up to the bus tickets to get there.”

John worries that the public doesn’t realize the extent of the housing crisis in our community. “These places aren’t just for people who moved here from somewhere else,” he says, acknowledging the long-time connection to qathet Region that most of the building’s participants share. For now, he’s just grateful to have a home for him and his cat, Bung. “I want to give him the best life possible. I do spoil him. Give him every type of treat.”

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We live and work on the homelands and territories of the Tla’amin People. We honour the land, the Tla’amin People, and their treaty and continually seek to strengthen our relationship and responsibilities to them as guests in the territory.