Darron Goebel accepts donations on Alexander Street in hopes of buying a new tent.- Image credit: Martha Wickett/Salmon Arm Observer.

A population in crisis: homelessness in the Shuswap

The homeless have been left to fend for themselves, lacking both available resources and affordable housing.

  • Apr. 5, 2017 4:05 p.m.

As the city’s only homeless shelter shut its doors on April 1, some of the most vulnerable in our society are stuck without a roof over their heads.

The homeless have been left to fend for themselves, lacking both available resources and affordable housing.

Observer reporter Martha Wickett delved into several angles of the homelessness issue in Salmon Arm this week, interviewing those that live on the streets, the agencies out there to support them and by looking at some of the statistics about homelessness in the area.

She sat down with Darron Goebel who has lived on the streets for the last few days since the shelter closed

He hoped to raise $15 that day to buy a new tent, after his other one burnt down.

Also living on the street, brothers Robert and Raymond Gartner.

When they spoke with Wickett they shared a story of frustration and let downs.

“Last year, my brother and I spent all year outside in a tent,” said Robert.

They have hopes of finding housing soon – if they can find work.

Raymon, Robert and Darron’s stories are not that unique. In fact, the statistics show many are on the edge of homelessness with skyrocketing rent rates putting people at risk.

Statistics gathered in 2014 show half of rental households spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing, which does not meet the definition of affordable. The rent is in itself eating up renters’ income.

This is where the government needs to step in and do more, according to the the Canadian Mental Health Association.

Executive director Dawn Dunlop says one of the key indicators of a healthy community is safe, secure and affordable housing.

She has called on all levels of government and types of organizations to work together without competing, noting that the federal government needs the provinces, and the provinces need the non-profits.

To read all four pieces surrounding homelessness in the Shuswap, click the links above.

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