Yukon advocacy group issues 10 calls to action to address homelessness

Like many parts of the country, Whitehorse faces a housing crisis, and Yukon’s Safe at Home Society says things are getting worse.

On Tuesday, the advocacy group issued 10 calls to action at a community barbecue it hosted at Rotary Peace Park in response to the city’s ongoing homelessness crisis.

These calls include recommendations such as expanding rent supplements to include those on income assistance, banning evictions without cause, creating a landlord registry, reconsidering the need to regulate rentals in the city and increasing support for people struggling with bed bugs.

The organization says more than 200 people are looking for housing in Whitehorse, up from last year. The figure includes more than 60 children.

On Tuesday, the Safe at Home Society of Yukon issued 10 calls to action at a community barbecue it hosted at Rotary Peace Park in response to the city’s current homelessness crisis. (Philippe Morin/Radio-Canada)

Kate Mechan, executive director of Safe at Home, said the Yukon doesn’t have many strong policies in place to ensure people are housed and stay housed. For example, the Yukon is one of the few places in Canada where landlords can evict without cause.

“We are seeing a steady increase in the number of people and families experiencing homelessness,” she said, including long-term homelessness.

This homelessness, Mechan said, can last a very long time.

« We know people who have been homeless for 10 years, » she said.

Evictions without cause must end, group says

Regarding evictions, Mechan said people can have anywhere from 14 days to three months to find a new home, which she says is often not enough time to find a home in the housing market. tight from the Yukon.

Mechan said that until the Yukon implements its no-cause eviction policy under the Residential Landlord Tenant Act, people will have no security of tenure.

« Other policy mechanisms, like a rent cap, for example, can’t really do the job they’re supposed to do because a landlord…can just evict someone and then raise the rent and bring in new tenants » , she said.

« It’s an example of how evictions without cause are truly precarious. »

Samantha Smith, a housing stability worker at Safe at Home, said she saw more and more people struggling to pay their rent, even while working.

« We just see more and more people knocking on our door. And it’s a similar story we hear from other organizations, » Smith said.

Smith said that for three months, from April to June, according to the organization’s latest report, they received more than 500 calls from people seeking housing assistance.

Homelessness is a community issue

Sofia Ashley, executive director of the Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre, came to the event to show her support.

She said that in recent years, the women’s center has increasingly helped people on income assistance pay for rent, utilities, security deposits and more.

Ashley thinks one of the most important calls to action is the one calling for an end to debt or arrears for people living in housing in the Yukon

“I really think this has to end somehow,” she added, some people end up getting kicked out for being in debt even for amounts less than $100.

« When you have a traumatized population, and in particular a population that’s been traumatized around housing, every time there’s this little pink notice on their doorstep, you trigger a mental health crisis, you trigger health syndromes chronic, you trigger an addiction. »

She said homelessness is a community issue, not just for organizations trying to help or those who experience it.

« This community has [hundreds of] homelessness, and as a community we all need to work together to end this for them,” Ashley said.

« It’s entirely possible. There are models for that. We just have to do the work. »


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