For most of us in Mississauga-Lakeshore, experiencing homelessness is an unimaginable situation. Each day, we are able to meet our daily needs of health, security, food, housing and camaraderie, unimpeded. Yet, many people within our region wake in a world in which their life is a constant challenge – overcoming one obstacle only to be faced with another. Where will they sleep that night? How will they get their next meal? This constant state of distress is intensified due to the negative stereotypes, assumptions, and accusations associated with being ‘homeless’, which are then perpetuated by a lack of awareness and understanding. To combat this misunderstanding, The Compass Food Bank and Outreach Centre is dedicated to advocating for our clients experiencing homelessness through community-based education, inclusion and empowerment.
South Mississauga is often associated with our beautiful waterfront, incredible small-businesses, safe neighbourhoods, and strong sense of community. While homelessness does not typically come to mind, it is a prevalent barrier painting an alarming picture of ‘hidden homelessness’.
Homelessness is a complex experience, day-to-day survival ranges from maintaining proper hygiene to handling the unfavourable weather. This complexity demands that we must tackle the lack of affordable, supportive, and transitional housing while advocating for adequate core benefits. No one should be forced to choose between feeding their family or paying rent. The above are examples of legislative change that we must continue to champion, but each of us can make an immediate difference in our own circles.
By creating and participating in a welcoming community for all, we can break down boundaries. This shift in mindset can build a support system that fosters inclusivity, safe spaces and positive progress. Familiarize yourself with grassroots organizations in your area which are actively making a difference, and then support them through volunteering your time, fundraising and spreading accurate information and awareness. In advance of the upcoming provincial election in June, research your local candidates and their party platforms, and engage with them on the issues when they knock on your door. Once elected, take the time to hold them accountable to their proposals on homelessness and affordable housing. Do not let neglect continue in your own backyard, choose to be the difference.
As Mississauga increases in inflation and expense, food banks such as The Compass have adapted to become ever evolving diverse and accessible community spaces. While The Compass immediately assists with food, we also have programs which tackle the challenges that come with the experience of homelessness. We are constantly exploring new ways to help reduce and eventually prevent homelessness, while supporting our most vulnerable and marginalized clients. If you would like to get involved with The Compass, or learn more, please email email@example.com.