Making transit accessible for the homeless is being sought after as part of this year’s Homelessness Action Week (HAW) in the Metro Vancouver area.
In HAW’s 10th year, which runs from Oct. 11-17, the Transit Working Group is aiming to make public transit services available to the homeless by increasing the financial and social accessibility; while its introduction to the Metro Vancouver area is new, providing homeless transit services has already been adopted by other major Canadian cities.
The proposed transportation policy isn’t just about providing transit: its additional purposes include the ability to access health care, housing and employment. Essentially, the goal in providing transportation to the homeless is multi-functional in that it is to help them access services they need.
What Homelessness Action Week is about
Organized by the Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness, HAW’s purpose is to raise public awareness on homelessness, provide services and events through grants at various organizations over the week and throughout the year.
This year, $43,000 in grants were approved for 18 non-profit organizations to help carry out events, create awareness and engage in solutions.
Celine Mauboules, senior planner in the housing policy and projects department for the City of Vancouver, said the key criteria when considering the grants is the events must be directly related to the homeless.
“It needs to something that is going to benefit people that are homeless as opposed to supporting an administrative event,” she said.
Mauboules said some services include helping individuals get photo ID, inform how to obtain access to income assistance, offer meals, haircuts and hygiene kits.
“It’s a great way through volunteers and their organizations to connect with people who are homeless to provide these services,” she said.
Can you see me?
This year’s theme ‘Can You See Me?’ reflects the “hidden homelessness” who aren’t visible to the public, with a large focus on aboriginals and youth. To help raise awareness, HAW is being advertised on posters in transit shelters and throughout local communities in ways that make sense to them.
“The goal is really to allow local organizations through their networks to promote their events, volunteer and learn about the issue instead of telling them what the issue is,” Mauboules said.
Mauboules added social media is also being used as a way to promote the week, via outlets such as Twitter and Facebook.
While HAW effectively runs until the 17th, Mauboules added events aren’t just during that particular week. She said every three months there is one connect event, which are special events intended to give homeless people additional access to a variety of services in one place. Visit stophomelessness.ca for more information.
Here is a google map of Homelessness Action Week events happening throughout the week and throughout the year: