The end of any year is sort of bittersweet, just like the winter months that usher us into a new year. As we look back on 2021, it’s hard to ignore that it’s been a hard year of both peril and promise. On one hand, our sector and the people we serve have faced terrible hardship. On the other, we’ve made significant progress together despite that hardship.
The compounding crises of housing affordability, homelessness, overdoses, and the pandemic grind on, made all the more damaging by the new COVID-19 variant and a harsh Canadian winter. This new variant will threaten the lives of people experiencing homelessness and add to the mounting mental and physical toll on frontline workers, who face the daunting challenge of protecting our homeless neighbours from yet another wave of this brutal pandemic despite losses of quarantine and isolation spaces.
It is a dangerous time, but the new year can also be a turning point.
This past year, we saw billions of dollars added to the National Housing Strategy and Reaching Home communities receive hundreds of millions of dollars in life-saving COVID supports. We had a federal general election where Canadians told us in no uncertain terms that our new federal government must prioritize housing. The new federal government will soon appoint a Federal Housing Advocate to lead the charge on addressing systemic housing issues and progressively realizing our right to housing. Built for Zero Canada communities saw over 10,000 people experiencing chronic homelessness move into their own homes since the beginning of the pandemic. The pandemic didn’t stop London, ON from ending veteran homelessness or Medicine Hat, AB from achieving functional zero chronic homelessness. And there will be more progress, more reductions, and more milestones achieved on our road to ending homelessness in 2022.
As author Jim Collins urges, we must keep an “unwavering faith that [we] can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time, have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of [our] current reality, whatever they might be.”
We cannot and must not ever lose faith that homelessness—and this pandemic—will end. Together, we will face and tackle the brutal daily realities of homelessness and keep knocking down milestones until we reach our ultimate goal. Ending homelessness is not only possible, but within reach—even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.
We will get there, together. We will get there because of you.
Thank you for all your incredible hard work, support, and encouragement throughout another challenging year.
From everyone at the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, best wishes for a safe, happy, healthy, and restful holiday break.