Our Stories

"Housing is a health issue"

Good Shepherd, 2021

A gray-haired man wobbles and bobs as he stands on the Queen St. East sidewalk. He seems to be trying to sit on the standpipe attached to a building. He can’t manage it. He leans against the building instead, his head hanging down.

Despite the snow, he wears no coat — perhaps the cold eases the severe rash that covers his arms? Maybe he has lost his coat? He is clearly unwell. But there is nowhere for him to go, to sit down, to get warm.

The homeless in Toronto have never been more visible, with so many of them trapped outside. And yet they remain unseen. Queen East is nearly empty of its usual foot traffic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it crystal-clear: housing is a health issue. You can’t stay home in a pandemic if you have no home.

Shelters like Good Shepherd Centre play a crucial role in helping people in crisis — and our community will always have people in crisis. But shelters are not the right place to house people with complex, chronic health issues. The lack of affordable supportive housing has turned people with chronic health conditions into the chronically homeless.

Luckily, the homeless have their heroes, the people who take action to help them. (You, as a supporter of Good Shepherd Ministries, are one of them!)

Dr. Stephen Hwang is another hero for the homeless. Since the 1990s, he has researched the connections between health and housing status. His work shows why our community needs more housing for the “hard to house” — and that housing the homeless is not just a caring choice, but also the cost-effective option.

Dr. Hwang’s recent appointment as Vice Chairman of Good Shepherd Ministries’ Board of Directors underscores our commitment to our vision: to end chronic homelessness in our community.

By working together, we can create more permanent supportive housing. And then we can write a happy ending for the grey-haired man stumbling along Queen St. East. Together, we can bring him home.

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