A FISH…OR A ROD?
Give a man a fish, the saying goes, you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he feeds himself for a lifetime. Both day-to-day solutions and long-term strategies are required to end the cycle of poverty.
Here at St. Stephen’s we know several of the day-to-day solutions quite well. Since 1997 we have provided safe refuge for the homeless through Inn From the Cold. Twice a month volunteers provide food, accommodation, and a warm welcome to the guests who find their way here. Once a year we participate in the Feed the Hungry Dinner program of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral. We join a volunteer force of 100 people to serve a full Sunday meal to up to 500 people.
Along with the many other citywide programs to alleviate the effects of poverty, these are important initiatives. But they don’t tackle the larger problem of poverty itself. Why do so many remain homeless in our city, and what can we do to solve that problem at its source?
In 2008 the Calgary Homeless Foundation took on the task of coordinating Calgary’s Plan to End Homelessness, focusing on the principle of “housing first” (i.e. get a person housed, then they can address the root causes of their homelessness). In the years since its implementation the Plan has provided housing for over 6000 individuals and seen a 15% reduction in homelessness overall.
So we all have a part to play—giving a man a fish, or a rod.