The Face of Caledon Homeless

  • Poverty

Caledon Enterprise
By Matthew Strader, Enterprise Staff

The time is now to confront homelessness in Caledon. That was the message from a community consultation subcommittee working on a homelessness partnering strategy for Caledon Community Services (CCS). “I know of teens in our community couch-surfing because of family conflict,” said Father Larry Leger of Holy Family Catholic Church in Bolton. “I know of seniors who heat their house by putting the oven on at 400 degrees, women who have pets but can’t find a home for both. I’m here because people are sleeping in ravines and parks.”

Leger was joined by Dr. Cheryl Van Daalen- Smith, a nurse researcher, and Carmel Hill, a resident and committee member. The group said there is a provincial and regional responsibility to confront the poverty problem that exists and will grow in Caledon. “As a leader in our faith community, this is the right thing to do,” Leger said about the delegation to council on Oct. 4, and specifically the regional councillors.

“If we step in now, we can make a difference.” The group said research has shown them Caledon is dealing with homeless today, and that education on what homeless can be is key in the town. “Our research showed there are many different ways of being homeless,” Leger said. “Many fellow Caledonians are in dire straights, it simply may not be seen.” The residents said Caledon needs to be aware of the working poor, the youth living outside of their homes and the single parent struggling to provide food, clothing and recreation to their children as well as the typical face of homelessness.

Ward 1 Regional Councillor Richard Paterak asked the group what kind of statistics they had been able to gather that were Caledon specific. He said his concern was how many were a cause of working situations? “How much is related to low wage employment? I believe a community should be able to say that whoever works full time should be able to participate in the economy and live comfortably, but it’s clear that if you pay them $10 an hour, they can’t participate in the economy.”

Leger informed the council the group simply didn’t have the resources to provide those in depth statistics. He said “they are all volunteers and struggle for research time as it is. Ward 1 Area Councillor Doug Beffort thanked the group for their work and took the time to share a story to prove their point about education. “It’s true what you’re saying here. Sometimes people simply don’t know what to do, or what to look for.

A year ago, a rumor started around Caledon Village that there was a homeless person. It was a shock for a small village. Interestingly, everyone cared, but didn’t know what to do. We have a pothole, we know who to call, who do you call for this?”

Ward 3 and 4 Regional Councillor Richard Whitehead suggested it is time to get the Caledon statistics a group like this needs. In order to see action from levels of government, they are going to have to demonstrate the need, and the best way to do that is through real study. “I’m certainly willing to support work like this, but it’s clear all the initiatives need to get under way,” he said. Ward 5 Area Councillor Rob Mezzapelli agreed, stating he wondered if the studies were done how many causes of homelessness would be seen as preventable. “We’ll have a greater impact by getting in early and helping prevent,” he said.

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