Homeless – How Close Are You?

One of the most incisive comments made by an Abbotsford politician in years was made by Councillor Henry Braun at the August 31st public awareness event for the homeless and drug victims in Jubilee Park.

He was the only public official with the courage, the sense of civic duty or the genuine human interest to answer the invitation to attend the event.

While there he met with a great many organizers, supporters and homeless and drug addicted citizens and pointed out that, with today’s economy, the number of people in Abbotsford who are one or two pay cheques away from the streets is higher than ever.

Today Contributor Win Wachsmann sent us a note earlier today from @VibrantAbby’s Facebook page“Newly released data shows the distribution of the Abbotsford population living below the after-tax low-income …”

It is worth having a serious look and asking yourself just how close you are to living the life a growing number of our fellow citizens are being forced to live.

Our municipal leaders – politicians, bureaucrats, business leaders and police – have spread enough anger and hateful policies designed to eradicate the poor instead of eradicating poverty. If more of us are about to join the ranks of the homeless perhaps some of us will want to reconsider our positions on how they should be treated – or at least pay closer attention to what the City and the APD do to you when you join the ranks of the homeless.

One of those who was poisoned by the City of Abbotsford on June 4 had been homeless for only three days. In an all too common tale, his life had simply fallen apart from one day to the next. A private business owner one day … homeless the next. He simply lost everything through no fault of his own.

His first experience as a homeless person was to be poisoned by his fellow citizens and he almost lost an eye as a result of the infection. If you lose your home in Abbotsford this is what awaits you.

Surely we are better than this.

Maybe we should stop looking down on them given the growing number of us who may soon be joining them.

Homeless – How Close Are You?


We found some additional information, admittedly dated since the last census was in 2011, but it serves to make the point that there are far more of us who are close to the situation faced by our fellow citizens who currently live on the street than we would perhaps like to admit or believe.

Majority of Canadians are a Paycheck Away from Collapse

By The Canadian Press
Monday, September 14, 2009

TORONTO – Nearly 60 per cent of Canadians would have trouble paying the bills if their paycheque was delayed by one week, a new polls suggests.

The Canadian Payroll Association survey says not only are the majority of Canadians living paycheque-to-paycheque, but they have little ability to put money away for their retirement. The survey, released Monday, said 59 per cent of Canadians would have trouble making ends meet if they missed a paycheque.

“We were surprised that people were that close to the line,” said Patrick Culhane, president and CEO of the not-for-profit association.

Culhane said those results are despite the common advice from financial planners that people should set aside three months of expenses for such items as rent, groceries and monthly bills, in case of an emergency.

Of those surveyed, the younger workforce felt the greatest pinch. The survey said 45 per cent of people aged 18-to-34 would be difficult or very difficult to make ends meet if a paycheque were delayed. Another 21 per cent in that age group said it would be somewhat difficult.

Not surprisingly, 72 per cent of single parents said missing a paycheque would cause a problem for meeting financial obligations.

2011 National Household Survey

[excerpts] Home Ownership

New data from the National Household Survey (NHS) show almost 7 out of 10 Canadian households, or 9.2 million out of a total of 13.3 million households, owned their dwellings in 2011.

The Canadian homeownership rate (69.0%) reported in the NHS was similar to that from the 2006 Census (68.4%). This follows 15 years of gains in the homeownership rate between 1991 and 2006.

Households in the Atlantic provinces had the highest homeownership rates in the country, led by Newfoundland and Labrador at 77.5%. Quebec had the lowest rate among provinces at 61.2%.

The homeownership rates in all three territories were below the national rate. Nunavut, with a homeownership rate of 21.0%, was the only territory with fewer households who owned rather than rented their dwelling.

Couple-family households had the highest rate of homeownership at 82.4%. The homeownership rate was over half (55.6%) for lone-parent households, and less than half (48.5%) for non-family households.

Shelter costs and affordability

In 1986, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the provinces agreed to assess housing affordability against a threshold based on whether the household spent 30% or more of its average monthly total income on shelter costs.

In 2011, one-quarter (3.3 million) of Canadian households spent 30% or more of their total income on shelter. That group was almost equally split between owners and renters, with about 1.7 million households owning their dwelling and 1.6 million renting.

Although the overall numbers were similar, given there are more homeowners than renters, a larger proportion of tenant households exceeded the affordability threshold. In 2011, 40.1% of households that rented their dwelling paid 30% or more of their total income towards shelter costs, compared with about one-fifth (18.5%) of owner households.

The proportion of households that paid 30% or more of total income towards shelter costs also varied among census metropolitan areas (CMAs). Vancouver had the largest proportion (33.5%), while Saguenay had the smallest proportion (18.9%).

Canadians in bottom two income deciles had more than half of their income from government sources

The majority of income for people in the lowest two income deciles came from government transfers (55.1% in the second decile and 67.5% in the lowest decile). In contrast, government transfers represented 5.0% of total income in the ninth decile and 2.1% in the top decile.

Almost one-third of those in the second decile were aged 65 and over, so OAS/GIS (21.1%) and other government income (12.3%) were among the main sources of transfer income for this group. Government assistance to people in the bottom income decile came mainly from child benefits (17.3%) and other government income (35.0%).

Most families with young children receive child benefits

Families had a higher share of income from market sources, at 88.6% of family total income, than persons living alone (82.6%).

For couple families with children under 6 years old, EI benefits and child benefits accounted for 4.1% and 4.7% respectively of total income. Over 40% of these families received EI benefits. Child benefits reached a much larger number of these families, as 92.4% of the couples with children under 6 years old received such benefits.

Female lone-parent families were more likely to be recipients of child benefits than male lone-parent families. In 2010, 95.8% of female lone-parent families with children under 18 years old received child benefits, whereas 63.9% of male lone-parent families with children under 18 had such benefits.

US Situation Is Worse

PBS.org reported back in 2010, “The Great Recession might have officially ended in June 2009, but high unemployment continues to vex the economy and flummox our politicians. New statistics paint a grim picture. Forty-one million people are now on food stamps, up 45 percent since 2008. And one in seven Americans is living in poverty — the highest in decades.

“Most Americans will get back on their feet. But older unemployed Americans might not get that chance. The unemployment rate for baby boomers has doubled since the beginning of the recession. We bring you an intimate portrait of a husband and wife in Portland, Ore., in who built a life and a business, only to see their world quickly fall apart.
PBS 2010”

Cover Photo: Poor House from Galway” (Cartoon), Harper’s Weekly, New York, 1883

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