In years past, it may have appeared that Chatham-Kent didn’t have a homelessness problem. Homelessness has always existed here, but in recent years, and especially since March when the pandemic hit, it has become much more visible.

In just 8 months, homelessness has doubled in Chatham-Kent.

Karyn O’Neil, who is the Director of Community Engagement & Operations here at United Way, spent some time last week speaking with individuals experiencing homelessness in Chatham.

“While many of us are focusing on leaving no one behind when it comes to supporting our community’s most vulnerable – I’m interested in hearing from the very people who we’re intending to help. We think we know what kinds of supports are needed; and what barriers people are experiencing to accessing housing. Without the voices of people living it every day – can we really know? That’s exactly why we’re making every effort to ensure everyone’s voice is heard.”

Karyn went out with R.O.C.K. Missions last week and had a conversation with a man named B, and asked what his Christmas wish would be.

“My Christmas wish would be to take care of hunger and homeless people.  You guys do a lot for us but, but you don’t actually know how it’s like to be homeless.”

These are the voices of the homeless in Chatham-Kent.
“I’ve been homeless three times since I’ve lived in Chatham – three times. One time was almost a year because of the house fire.” -G.
“We need more support. We need housing.” -K.

“To rent a place, it used to be – you shook a hand, here’s your money. And now you have that to fill out [applications], they want credit checks, they want your job, they want everything” -S.

We know there’s a huge need out there for food, housing, and other supports. While groups like ROCK Missions, the Sandwich Guys, Neighbourlink, Hope Haven, and more are out there every day listening, there’s a lot more that needs to be done.

You can help by volunteering for one of the organizations above or by making a donation to help keep these services and programs running.