CORNER BROOK Homelessness in Corner Brook is not necessarily sleeping on the street, but that‚Äôs what at least seven women were expected to do Thursday night.
© Star photo by Cory Hurley
A group in Corner Brook is spending 24 hours outside to raise awareness about youth homelessness. They are near the Millbrook Mall until noon today.
The contingent was partnering with the Community Youth Network ‚ÄĒ along with the Community Coalition on Housing and Homelessness and the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing and Homelessness Network ‚ÄĒ to spend 24 hours on the street in front of the Millbrook Mall.
It was all about raising awareness of the youth homelessness that surrounds people locally everyday, mostly unnoticed.
Aimee Pennell took part in hopes of making people aware of the issue.
‚ÄúIt is a problem here in Corner Brook,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúEvery time I‚Äąmention it nobody believes me, because nobody sees it.‚ÄĚ
Pennell works with the Community Mental Health Initiative as a mental health support worker. She assists the housing support coordinator to find people housing and also offers programs to people with addictions and mental health-related issues.
‚ÄúI deal with homelessness everyday,‚ÄĚ she said.
She said her organization did 10 intakes in the past month for people looking for emergency housing.
The bright orange couch positioned adjacent Main Street in downtown Corner Brook is symbolic of one form of homelessness that is fairly common in this area. Couch surfing is the term used to describe a person without a permanent home who bounces from place-to-place sleeping on their couch or alternate accommodations.
Lisa Osmond, executive director of the Community Youth Network, said the network seen 17 people in need of emergency housing in the 2012-2013 fiscal year. That is additional to the people who have asked about funding for apartments and boarding houses.
" ... Nobody believes me, because nobody sees it.‚ÄĚ Aimee Pennell, mental health support worker
‚ÄúAffordable housing in Corner Brook is one of the leading causes of homelessness,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúThere are health issues, not having a supportive home environment, and behavioral issues as well.‚ÄĚ
There is a local effort underway to establish a crisis emergency shelter for young men. The hope is it will be available in the next six months, Osmond said.
As a preventative action, she also said there is a need for supportive services surrounding life skills, finding employment, and education.
For 24 hours, ‚Äúsleep out‚ÄĚ participants were expected to sleep outside without access to money or personal items such as cell phones. They could only obtain food and drink through direct donations from the public, and had to avail of public restrooms.
By encouraging the city‚Äôs youth to sacrifice their comforts and stand up for those less fortunate, this campaign supports a vision of social responsibility through youth supporting youth.
The group is expected to be in front of the Millbrook Mall on Main Street until noon today.