featured Poverty

Kendall Worth: What I learned while visiting People’s Park

Kendall Worth at People’s Park. Contributed

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Compared to many people who I advocate for and write about, I am lucky because I am not well off but I do have a roof over my head. 

Something that society in general, and especially the financially better off, need to understand is that by far most of the unhoused people are not criminals. As well, people are not homeless by their own choice. 

My professional contacts, like those who work at the North End Community Health Centre or at Dal Legal Aid have been kept very busy finding homes for the unhoused and allowing the people who do have a home to keep their place.

Homeless people are in most cases people who got to a point in life where they cannot afford to pay rent and bills anymore. Just like the people on welfare, every situation is different.

It’s a very hard life. When you are homeless you have limited access to things like showers and bathrooms. You also do not have an address you can put on job applications when looking for work. Some tell me they do have cell phones but can only use them to call 911 in case of an emergency.

The person I spoke with at the People’s Park encampment told me that he lost his job. Back in his days of working for 20 years or so he never thought that day would come that he would be homeless or on welfare. 

He next got evicted from his apartment about three months or so before COVID started. He told me that before he got evicted from his apartment he tried to apply for income assistance, but Community Services decided to not approve him. I wrote about those situations here: Assistance denied: an encounter with the bizarre rules to qualify for Community Services support.

“Kendall, DCS decided to not approve me for income assistance because just like the person you talked about in the story they said the information I provided them for my application was incomplete.”

He also told me people at the People’s Park have found community by spending time together and getting to know one another. This has been very helpful.

Kendall Worth is an award-winning anti-poverty activist who lives with disabilities and tries to make ends meet on income assistance.

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