Being homeless wears on your soul, says Tim while smoking speed to stay warm on an icy winter morning underneath the Penticton Channel highway bridge.
Tim has been experiencing homelessness in Penticton for 15 years, living under bridges and for a time at the Bethel church doorway.
He says the city has put up bars underneath the bridges so people can’t gather there anymore. “You can’t push homeless out, it just goes somewhere else,” he said.
Tim’s story and others are featured in a newly released “Displaced: Living in the Shadows” – lived experience films exploring the events leading to homelessness and the challenge for survival in Penticton.
The videos were created by OneSky Community Resources and 100 More Homes who co-launched the new anti-stigma campaign as a lead-up to Homelessness Action Week Oct. 10 to 16.
Displaced: Living in the Shadows is a series of stories from a perspective that tells the broader community what it is like to lose housing, family, support, income and ‘pieces of your soul.’
With Penticton’s most recent Point in Time Homelessness Count identifying at least 118 individuals experiencing homelessness, 100 More Homes believes it’s important to highlight causes of homelessness in Penticton, as well as the challenges individuals face when trying to survive.
The stigma associated with homelessness or high-risk housing like living in RV parks or motels perpetuates a vicious cycle and stigma for the community’s most vulnerable, said 100 More Homes.
“We see the challenges in our community where stigma creates barriers for folks accessing essential services, and we want to address stigma as a defining cause of health and housing inadequacies,” said OneSky Community Resources.
You can view the films as they are released on social media starting on Oct.11 at OneSky Community Resources’ Youtube channel.
Dorothy, a First Nation elder, explains in one video what led her to live on the streets for 12 years and how even though housed now, it continues to challenge her life.
“A home is important to me, to keep me warm, to cook food,” Dorothy said. “But even though I’ve had a home for 11 years, I am always moving my sleeping quarters to keep myself safe at night so people don’t know where I am.”
She said life on the streets is tough and you are always getting chased away. She says it can happen to anyone.
To help the homeless, you have to have a heart and be a good listener, she says.
Christopher’s story is the first to be told. He used to live at the Shielings Motel before he was given an eviction notice by the city.
“Everyone was worried about being homeless again. I was homeless for five years. Bylaws, fighting and harassment. It made me more angry,” said Christopher. “I didn’t have a drug problem, I had an anger management problem.”
One way he thinks could help the homeless is to stop demolishing low-cost motels like the Shielings. He said homeless do drugs to escape their horrible circumstances.
He said if we don’t help through real action, there is going to be more people displaced, more people feeling irritated and disconnected.
100 More Homes’ participating organizations include BC Housing, City of Penticton, Interior Health, United Way British Columbia, SOSBIS and OneSky Community Resources and South Okanagan Lived Experience Circle (SOLE).