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Homelessness now on radar in Burnaby
While homelessness is increasing in Burnaby, one thing that is changing for the better is people's attitudes, says Wanda Mulholland, community development coordinator for the Burnaby Task Force On Homelessness.
The task force is marking Homelessness Action Week Oct. 13 to 19 with a series of events, from a donation drive and outreach events to a film presentation and a fundraiser.
"Nine years ago [when the task force started] people weren't talking about homelessness as a Burnaby issue at all," Mulholland said. A large part of the task force's work has been to raise awareness that "Burnaby is not exempt from homelessness and extreme poverty."
A survey conducted last year in the Lower Mainland found that 23 per cent of respondents knew someone who was homeless or had been in the past five years, she said.
"There's a lot of understanding now that these are real people affected and often people they know and care about. That makes it very different."
The task force is comprised of representatives from government agencies, Fraser Health Authority, community organizations, businesses, faith communities and concerned citizens.
Since 2005, it has helped people access services and housing, providing support to one homeless person at a time, she said.
"Having said that, we meet new people all the time that are in need of those services that didn't necessarily need them a year ago … The need is increasing, absolutely."
• A clothing drive will kick off Homelessness Action Week, on Saturday, Oct. 12, 12 to 2:30 p.m., at West Burnaby United Church, 6050 Sussex Ave. The same location will host the Burnaby Homeless Connect outreach event, on Oct. 17 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
A screening of "It Takes a Community to End Homelessness" and "world cafe" discussion will be held Tuesday, Oct. 15, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in Room 103, Shadbolt Centre for the Arts. Pre-register at firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-317-8114.
A Rockin' for Burnaby fundraiser, in conjunction with South Burnaby Neighbourhood House and Burnaby Association for South East Side will be held Oct. 19, 7:30 p.m. at Edmonds Community Centre. It is almost sold out.