Although the City of Kingston and the United Way report that the number of people sleeping in shelters in the area is down 12 per cent since last year, that doesn’t issues of homelessness in Kingston have decreased.
In fact, with fewer shelters in the city than ever before in modern history, that number being down isn’t indicative of the homeless problem in Kingston – especially seeing as how the number of those without permanent residence has increased by 11 per cent.
It’s for those reasons and more that the Kingston Coalition Against Poverty (KCAP) is hosting its first ever Town Hall on Homelessness.
“The focus of our group for the past two years has been advocating for an end to the funding cuts for the shelters, and hopefully to increase the funding and get some of the shelters opened again, or some new shelters opened,” said Ian Clark, president of KCAP.
“For this town hall, we’ve invited a list of speakers to come to talk about sort of their experiences, either someone living in homelessness in Kingston, or somebody works with those groups.”
Two speakers will give their first-hand accounts of either living on the street or being precariously housed, Clark explained. The event will also have a representative from Kingston Street Mission speaking, as well as a representative from Loving Spoonful. Additionally, a representative from the Queen’s AMS Foodbank will also be speaking.
“That person will talk about student poverty… I think, student poverty and even student homelessness is kind of a forgotten issue in town,” Clark said.
Clark said that KCAP has received RSVPs from four members of Kingston City Council, an encouraging sign for his organization.
“We are actually quite hopeful about the new council, which is something I’m not necessarily used to saying as an activist in this city,” Clark said with a laugh.
“It definitely looks like there could be a lot of potential for change… I think the last council, too, they really wanted to help with this problem, but I think this council even more so are going to be dedicated to helping… I don’t know if I would necessarily say ‘helping to end homelessness’, because I’m not 100 per cent sure that that’s actually possible in a meaningful sense, but certainly to help get some strong reduction.”
All are welcome and the event is free, Clark said, and KCAP is hoping to see a diverse group in attendance.
“There’s really strong community support, I think, for doing more, but I think we want to get the discussion from there to what specific do we do, what needs to be done, at what level, what does the city need to do, and what do concerned citizens need to do to sort of put that more into action,” he said.
The KCAP Town Hall on Homelessness takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. tonight (Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018) at Café Church, 333 Princess Street, unit 200. For more information on KCAP, click here.