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Painting picture of poverty

Metro Vancouver’s mayors renewed their call for a national affordablehousing strategy as the fourth-annual Homelessness Action Week kickedoff yesterday.

Metro Vancouver’s mayors renewed their call for a national affordable housing strategy as the fourth-annual Homelessness Action Week kicked off yesterday.

“We’re letting people fall through the cracks … and no other country at our level is doing that,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.

Nearby, powerwashers prepared to emblazon stophomelessness.ca into the sidewalk outside the Broadway-Commercial SkyTrain station — a reminder that each person can help end homelessness.

Canada is the only G8 country without a national housing strategy, which would align provincial, federal and municipal efforts to eradicate homelessness.

Figures from March 2008 indicate that there are 2,600 homeless in Metro Vancouver, but the real number of homeless is thought to be higher due to last year’s economic downturn.

Many others — specifically young adults and single mothers — live on the brink of homelessness, said Alice Sundberg, co-chair of the Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness.

“They may be one paycheque away from losing their home and having no place to stay,” she said.

Ending homelessness goes beyond getting people off the street and into shelters, added Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore.

“(It’s also about) closing the door to homelessness so people don’t become homeless. We can be a better society if people aren’t on the streets … we should keep them in the homes they are in, and that’s what the national strategy needs to address.”

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