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Bask in holiday season but don’t forget the homeless

In less than 10 days, I will be homeless. I am not a 16-year-old who has run away from home. I am a 60-year-old woman whose home ran away from her.
I lived in social housing for over 15 years, but left in 2006 when my husband passed away. After that, I cared for my father in his home until he passed away two years ago. Since then, I’ve been on the waiting list for a new place to call home and have been lucky enough to find places to stay in the meantime.
I cannot afford market rent in this city, and even if I could I would be hard-pressed to find a suitable place. I can’t afford market rent because I am on the Ontario Disability Support Program, and the shelter portion of my assistance is just not enough.
I also work part-time, but it’s still not enough to make ends meet. In addition to the cost of renting a place in Guelph, my disability requires me to narrow my search to places that are accessible.
Despite being on the computer and the phone every day looking for a place, not only in Guelph but Elmira and Fergus too, and continually reaching out to anyone who might be able to help, I still cannot find a home and still face being homeless very soon.
I am in constant contact with housing services at the County of Wellington, and I totally understand their situation with their waiting lists and other people in my situation. I’ve also reached out to the Welcome In Drop In, but they have no ideas, although they do provide services that help immensely with food, laundry, showers, etc.
I have worked in community development for over 25 years. I’ve been to all of the places that I would normally tell someone in my position to go for help. And still, I cannot find a home and still face being homeless very soon.
I understand that there are many others in our community who are in the same situation, but that does not make it easier for me to get sleep at night or fight depression or the health issues that this situation is creating every day.
I am sharing my story so others understand that homelessness is a huge issue in our community.  As the County of Wellington develops a new 10-year housing and homelessness plan, I hope situations like mine are addressed and that next year I’ll have a place to call home.
But I am still a kid at heart and still believe in Santa and Christmas. In keeping with the season and with optimism going into the new year, I am hopeful I will eventually find a warm, accessible home of my own and wish the same for others in my situation.
Barb McPhee volunteers for
the Community Voices working group of the Poverty Task Force,  the Waverley     Neighbourhood Group and
the Salvation Army’s Holiday Bureau.

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