Look at the following images of people living on the streets. Can you identify where in the world the image is from?
Watch the video on the quality of life in Williams Lake  and with a partner highlight some of the best things about living in Williams Lake. Is homelessness present in your area? Are you aware of any policies by the municipal or local government to deal with homelessness? How does your area compare with either Victoria or Williams Lake?
Watch the short video on the affordability of housing in the Greater Vancouver area. What is most shocking about the information provided in the video? Why do you think Vancouver is such an unaffordable place to buy property?
Look at the fact sheet (figure 2.7) about homelessness in Victoria, BC, and discuss with a partner which figure/fact is most shocking to you and why? Can you relate any of these figures to your local area?
Calculate the cost of living in BC using the cost-of-living calculator and work out the details for the following scenarios:
- Peter earns CAD 50,000 a year and Janice earns CAD 45,000. They have two young children both of whom are in school.
- Edward earns CAD 150,000 CAD a year and his wife Barbara earns CAD 80,000. Their three children are grown up.
- Polly earns CAD 45,000 a year and is not married; she has one son.
Imagine that you are Polly, the single parent earning CAD 45,000 a year, and you must find assistance with housing. Use the BC Housing website and outline the required steps and procedures you would need to complete in order to receive subsidized housing. Do you qualify? Why or why not?
Relating affordable housing to your context:
- The Mayor of Vancouver promises affordable housing for all, including students. Do you live in student accommodation? Do you have friends who live in off-campus housing? What do you think about the conditions that you and/or your friends are expected to live in? What can be done to change some of these conditions?
- Interview your parents, a relative or a friend who owns their own home. Ask them when they bought their home and if they know the difference in its value today. Ask them what they think of the cost of housing in BC and what options there are for young people planning to purchase their first home.
Take action. The Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness offers many volunteer opportunities that students can engage in. A list of community groups in Williams Lake can be found at Find An Advocate: Williams Lake, Aboriginal and First Nations, and Sheway provides emergency housing for women and children and offers volunteer opportunities.
- Figure 2.6 Man sleeping on sidewalk by The Blackbird (http://en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Man_sleeping_on_Canadian_sidewalk.jpg) used under CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en) Girl sitting on the street by Steve Evans (http://en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/File:India_poverty.jpg) used under CC-BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en) Street dwellers by Kounosu (http://en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Street_dwellers_in_San%27ya_district_in_Tokyo_Japan.jpg) used under CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en) Living on empties by Jellymc (www.flickr.com/photos/jellymc/9564981924/in/photostream/) used under CC-BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)
- Figure 2.7 Facts on homelessness in BC by Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness (victoriahomelessness.ca/get-informed/fact-sheets/) used with permission.
- Quality of Life in Williams Lake video http://www.elocallink.tv/clients3/can/brcolumbia/williamslake2012/tourplay.php?movie=willabccan_qol_rev3_iwd&spon=qualityo↵
- World's second least affordable city by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/vancouver-s-housing-2nd-least-affordable-in-world-1.2505524) ↵
- Cost of Living calculator www.costofliving.welcomebc.ca/CostOfLiving.aspx↵
- BC Housing website http://www.bchousing.org/Initiatives/Providing/Subsidized/Types↵
- Affordable housing for all, including student www.mayorofvancouver.ca/tag/housing-affordability↵
- Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness http://victoriahomelessness.ca↵
- Find An Advocate: Williams Lake, Aboriginal and First Nations www.povnet.org/find-an-advocate/453,73?page=1↵
- Sheway sheway.vcn.bc.ca/resources/resources-housing/↵