Homelessness | Amanda Ridgway | TEDxComoxValley

The following text contains transcriptions, quotations, excerpts from an original source linked below.

Homelessness is a direct result of disconnection with each other and our communities.

Homelessness is not new.
We are in a thirty-year period of homelessness that began in the 1980s. The previous period of homelessness was during the Great Depression.
Many people who are homeless are actually hidden — staying on couches, staying with friends, staying in cars, and places that are not fit for human habitation. For every 1 person you see homeless on the street, more than likely there’s 4 other people who are homeless (hidden from view).
What’s the #1 reason for homelessness? POVERTY.

Wealth inequality in Canada – 70% is owned by the top 20% of population. The richest 86 families own more than the bottom 11 million Canadians.
The federal government in the 1990’s withdrew their investment for affordable housing. So alongside rising rents and declining wages, Canada remains the only G8 country that doesn’t have a national housing strategy. So here we are with growing poverty.

If you’re aboriginal. If you have a disability. If you’ve just been released from an institution (mental health institute, or prison), or maybe you don’t have any social network in your community – you’re going to be more at risk for homelessness. So take that, and add to it that you just lost your job, or you just got a divorce. Or consider that you have mental cognitive impairments that relate to mental health or addictions or a brain injury. So when these individual factors collide with those big social factors — all of a sudden you’re homeless.
Increasingly, anyone can become vulnerable to losing their housing.

Homelessness is not a choice.
A rare individual may choose not to be a part of our social structures or not choose to be a part of the loops in place by our politicians, but they’re not choosing homelessness.
Public perception is that we have safety nets to help our most vulnerable citizens – but unfortunately, if you do need assistance, and if you do not have a permanent address, you’re likely to experience barriers.

Many people fall into homelessness and are trapped in such state because of the failings of our government, our support services, and our health systems. Due to lack of resources? Yes. Policy directives and funding requirements impose constraints and limitations.

Social organizations and non-profits have been setup to compete with each other (for funding), thus they do not even have the capacity to do the job they want to do. And neither can they broadcast helpful information. #PARADOX
As demand increases and problems continue, so do the experiences of learned HELPLESSNESS. We see more disconnects at community and social networks. Without a community plan and resources to implement it, we see a diffusion of responsibility and a lack of accountability. Inaction also occurs because of personal biases and prejudices: “get a good job! keep up with the Jones’s!”
Add to this, the stigma of alcohol and drug addiction and mental health issues – and this translates into deep fears and threats of personal identity. It plays out as misinterpretation of homelessness as a moral and ethical issue – when in reality it is a health and human rights issue. It’s been out most vulnerable citizens who have felt the full force of such.

One of the insidious disconnects really is reflected in our own discomfort when we face someone living in homelessness. What causes us to look away and to avoid eye contact? I’d suggest it’s a lack of self respect. Because as we look away, we deny and disconnect from that very part of us – because it’s our humanity which calls us to act, to offer some assistance, or to simply acknowledge the presence of another. Fortunately, our culture is becoming increasingly conscious – we’re raising our awareness. We’re rethinking how we relate to our environment, our material goods, and how we relate to each other. We’ve come out of the illusion of superiority, out of the spell of consumerism; we are reacquainting ourselves with our humanity and inter-connectedness with our natural world, and thus balance in our lives.

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This talk translates our society’s increasingly global conscience to understanding the challenges of homelessness and realizing the innovative community problem solving making a difference in communities across the nation. Amanda sees our acceptance of homelessness as a pathology of our disconnection with ourselves, each other and our planet. Amanda presents a vision of community where everyone is at home and invites our participation in tangible actions we all can take to end homelessness.

A consultant and entrepreneur, Amanda Ridgway, Ignite Consultancy, facilitates redesigning the necessary holistic systems that support healthy communities. She brings international experience strategizing community development to the challenges of affordable housing and homelessness. Presently she is engaging the Port Alberni community working with non-profits, municipalities and health services in completing an evidence-based homelessness prevention plan. Previously she worked in the Comox Valley to devise a model for more effective service provision. With a unique blend of psychology, performance coaching and mindfulness of the spirit, Amanda reframes real community challenges in a way that invigorates citizens to reconnect with their best selves and discover creative solutions.

People in communities across Canada are taking advantage of our more conscious viewpoints to go beyond limits and our previous beliefs (to thus end homelessness!) – they let go of judgments and the burden of past mistakes and learned helplessness. We are all opening ourselves to questions that shift our perception, change our minds, and therefore our actions. And it’s from this place that we can answer that question: what is the best thing that I/we can do to help?

We must make the shift from “managing homelessness”, to ending it. A shift to focusing all efforts by creating access to safe and secure affordable housing. Affordable housing income. Connecting people with information, resources, and opportunities needed most.

The best approach (suggested by research and evidence) to end homelessness, is the Housing First approach. And it basically states that a person needs housing first, before they can even consider other things like learning how to read or holding down a job.People in communities across Canada are takin

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