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Toques & New Site For Canada's Hidden Homeless

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 03 February 2004 00:00

Four out of five homeless Canadians don't live on the street. They live in cars. They find temporary beds in church basements or abandoned buildings. They sleep on somebody's couch.

They are Canada's hidden homeless: retirees on fixed incomes, adults with full-time jobs, single parents, children. Out of sight and out of mind.

Raising the Roof , our national Canadian charity dedicated to preventing and reducing homelessness, believes that everyone needs a place to call home. This year on February 3 -- Toque Tuesday, the day Canadians warm their heads and their hearts by buying toques to help the homeless -- housed Canadians will begin to know and understand the Hidden Homeless. The annual campaign has contributed approximately $1 million to 73 front-line homelessness agencies across Canada since 1998.

Raising the Roof funds community-based, long-term solutions to homelessness, informs Canadians about the true nature and scope of Canada's homeless crisis today and educates them about preventing homelessness tomorrow. It also builds partnerships by giving individuals, corporations, agencies and organizations the opportunity to develop and share strategies.

Last November, Direct Energy, Canada's largest energy retailer and a wholly-owned subsidiary of a UK-based energy supplier, donated C$250,000 to Raising the Roof to fight homelessness in Canada. Half of these funds support Raising the Roof's Shared Learnings on Homelessness , an interactive, bilingual website that enables individuals, communities and organizations to promote and share information and resources working towards a fully-housed population. Ongoing donations from Direct Energy will help maintain the site so that effective techniques, programs, resources and strategies are up-to-date.

Some development funding came from the National Secretariat on Homelessness through its three-year National Homelessness Initiative (NHI) designed to help ensure community access to programs, services and support for alleviating homelessness and to "assist homeless individuals and families in achieving and maintaining self-sufficiency." The government has renewed the NHI until 2006 with a reported investment of $405 million. NHI objectives will be supported through five federal programs including the Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative and the Regional Homelessness Fund.

Raising the Roof's one-stop Shared Learnings website offers four types of tools:

Profiles of Community Initiatives

Real-life examples, like the Edmonton Coalition on Housing and Homelessness illustrate effective programs, practices and approaches to address and prevent homelessness and to inform and inspire service providers, advocates and policy makers as they develop and implement their own responses to homelessness. The profiled initiatives represent a range of strategies that front-line practitioners from across Canada have found to be effective when working with diverse homeless and at-risk populations in large, medium and small urban areas, and in rural communities.

Directory of Organizations

Over 400 contacts in the Canadian homelessness and social housing sector are listed to enable service providers, advocates and others concerned about homelessness to connect and share with one another. For example, Calgary-based Streetlevel Canada is an educational forum on issues concerning homelessness and poverty in Canada.


Practical "how-to" resources are offered on hot topics and emerging issues. Each contains ideas for implementing effective, adaptable strategies and pointers to additional sources of information to suit a variety of circumstances.

NEWS Section

A monthly electronic bulletin, sponsored by Raising the Roof as part of the Housing Again partnership, puts the spotlight on what people are doing to put housing back on the public agenda across Canada and around the world.

Shared Learnings on Homelessness serves a wide range of users, including direct service providers, advocacy groups, housing providers, social service planners, policy makers, faith groups, donors, academics, students, decision-makers and members of the general public.

Buying a C$10 Raising-the-Roof Toque is one way for housed Canadians, from all walks of life, to end "out-of-sight-out-of-mind" acceptance of homelessness and make a personal contribution to putting a roof over everyone's head.

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