Housing & Social Justice
According to the most recent count, the number of homeless people in Edmonton has increased. Almost every year I attend an event that serves as a memorial for those who have died as a direct result of not having adequate shelter. Some years ago, I also attended a number of marches and rallies that dealt directly with a dramatic change in the housing market, which saw the purchase and rental prices of houses and apartments go sky high (at least by Edmonton standards). A tent city was set up behind Bissell Centre that was a temporary home not only to people who were already homeless, but also to people who had regular jobs who weren’t earning enough to pay rent, as well as to some who had more than enough money but could not find accommodation.
Now, it is 2015, and we’re still in the boom-and-bust cycle of the Alberta economy. Rents continue to be high, vacancy rates continue to be low, and the industry (oil) which promises the “Alberta advantage” is again bottoming out. With an economy that is so reliant on the fossil fuel industry, this was to be expected. Social justice issues such as housing, the environment, and even peace are connected to the economy of a society.
Poverty and housing are social justice issues that are especially concerning in an affluent city where there should be adequate and safe homes and social supports for everyone. It’s a city-wide responsibility, where there needs to be affordable housing everywhere, in every neighbourhood. One of the reasons there is so much diversity in Boyle Street and McCauley is that the area is so inclusive of all economic levels. It would be wonderful to see that welcoming spirit everywhere in our city, while tackling an important social issue that needs to be addressed.