KINGSTON, ON (Oct 28, 2021) – Earlier this year, United Way KFL&A and the City of Kingston partnered to create a new awareness campaign called Path Home Kingston. The campaign aims to help community members understand that the causes of homelessness are complex and different for each individual.
During the 2021 Point in Time Count, a higher number of people experiencing homelessness in Kingston (207) were counted compared to 2018. With this increase, colder weather approaching and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic continuing, awareness is more important than ever.
With input from frontline agencies, case workers and community members with lived experience, Path Home Kingston shares stories of individuals from different backgrounds that are homeless or have been homeless, showing how their path through life and experiences impacted their current situation.
“Homelessness isn't an issue that impacts only certain people - we can all be at risk,” explains Carol Ravnaas, Executive Director, Client Services, Addiction & Mental Health Services – KFLA. “Traumatic experiences, family violence or a history of physical, mental health and/or addictions issues can contribute to experiencing homelessness. Safe and stable housing can also be out of reach to those experiencing poverty or systemic barriers. Transformational life events can happen unexpectedly, and a lack of supports, resources and affordable housing can put anyone on a path to homelessness.”
The campaign, designed by BmDodo Strategic Design, shows that it’s not possible to see the challenges an individual has faced or what someone’s overcome at a glance. Real life stories of local residents who have become homeless are included in the campaign.
“At our shelter we have seen every walk of life come through our doors,” explained Amanda Brierley, Supervisor, In From The Cold Emergency Shelter, Kingston Home Base Housing. “What I would like the community to consider is that anyone is only three steps away from homelessness. It is a loss of family - relationship breakdown or death; loss of job – this has happened even more with the pandemic; and loss of home or being unable to pay rent.”
While the campaign does not cover all the stories, it aims to give a sampling of experiences. Through a series of advertisements on social media, in print, and through Kingston Transit buses and shelters, the campaign shows that solutions must be tailored to the individual and sometimes it can take a few tries to succeed.
Through the Path Home Kingston website, agencies, businesses and individuals can read stories, but they can also find resources to help including contact information for shelters, emergency services, food and meal programs. They can learn who to call if they encounter an individual in need of support and access more information on homelessness in Kingston.
“Homelessness is a complex issue which means there isn’t a simple solution,” added Ashley O’Brien, Manager, Integrated Care Hub Kingston. “We also know that just providing housing to people will not end homelessness. I truly believe people need to experience meaningful connection, belonging and community to thrive. I believe Kingston is a community that has all the resources it needs to end homelessness and if we want to actually end homelessness, the answers will come from the people who are experiencing it. They know what they need, we just have to listen.”
To learn more about Path Home Kingston, visit www.pathhomekingston.com
To view the full Point In Time Count for 2021 and also view past reports visit https://www.unitedwaykfla.ca/reports/