Ending homelessness the focus of 3-day Hamilton conference

Thirteen hundred delegates will be in Hamilton this week as the city hosts the National Conference on Ending Homelessness.

Among them will be James Hughes, the editor of Beyond Shelters, a collection of essays by front-line workers in homeless shelters across the country.

It’s described as a “groundbreaking look at how shelters could play a fundamental role in eliminating homelessness.”

Hughes says it includes compelling stories of individuals living in homelessness and how the shelters are trying to support them, as well as a broader view of how the whole system can work better to “actually reduce the numbers.”

The sixth annual conference is taking place from Nov. 5 to Nov. 7 at the Hamilton Convention Centre.

Organizers say it will have a special focus on Indigenous, LGBTQ and youth homelessness.

The delegates will include policymakers, funders, international and local experts, researchers, advocates, community leaders, front-line workers and people who have experienced homelessness from across Canada.

Hughes says there is a clear need for more affordable housing in Hamilton and other communities across the country.

He also points to the need for better co-ordination of resources, citing the “systemic problem” of people being discharged “to the street” by government institutions.

He argues that those institutions, including jails, mental health facilities and child protection services, must have a mandate to ensure housing supports as people leave their care.

Hughes concludes that we can end homelessness since “we have the technology and the will to do it.”

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