You can’t access a home without identification and you can’t get identification without a home address. This is just one of the many barriers to having a home for people who are clients of Lois Demers.

She is a Drug and Alcohol Counsellor with the North Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre with Algonquin and Potawatomi roots. And she has been overwhelmed with the number of people coming forward with requests for support.

“I can only go so far with my resources, my knowledge and my connections. Then we are stopped from moving forward.”

What’s needed immediately is a place to go says Demers. “People need housing – an interim shelter with safety, stability and structure until they can go into treatment.”

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, in a recent study on income inequality, arrived a startling conclusion. It stated that by 7:47 a.m. on the first working day of the year, Canada’s top 100 CEOs have already pocketed $49,510 — a sum it takes most Canadians a year to earn.

It should not have taken me by surprise, after a lifetime of living and working in the area of poverty as a social worker. Income inequality is an important indicator of equity in a country. It has implications for social outcomes such as crime, life dissatisfaction and poverty.

A study by the Conference Board of Canada says Canada’s 12th-place ranking in income inequality among peers suggests Canada is doing a mediocre job of ensuring income equality.

When I began hiking in the Rockies many years ago, a friend told me about some standard guidelines. One was, hike at the pace of the slowest person in your group.

It goes without saying, really. Don’t leave anyone behind. Don’t race up the trail and then stop to make sure they’re okay, many switchbacks below. Stay together, be together, support one another. Enjoy the beauty together, face dangers together.

To me, this guideline makes sense in all kinds of endeavours, all kinds of situations.

Having people in our community, whether they’ve lived here 10 years or 10 weeks, sleeping on patches of grass where they can find them, dragging their meager belongings from spot to spot each night, having no relief from wildfire smoke, having no proper bathroom, no hot water, is not okay.

Affordable housing would make a huge difference in the quality of life of less fortunate members of the community and a plan is in the works that could help many of them.

Open Arms executive director John Andrew says the organization recently acquired the former Kentville Christian Reformed Church building and 3.5 acres of land on Oakdene Avenue for an affordable housing development. The plan is to offer lower-than-market rent rates for low-income earners.

“It’s very taxing on people to be put in that place of having to worry about where they’re going to live month-to-month,” Andrew said. “If we can put a dent into that then we’ve done something very good and we’ll be overjoyed.”

There is a lack of affordable housing in the area. The Hastings Housing Resource Centre and Housing First Working Group of the Poverty Roundtable Hastings Prince Edward are reaching out to landlords and property owners to fix that.

There aren’t any affordable rentals left in the county, according to centre executive director Cathie West. The inventory of affordable housing in Hastings County neared zero at the end of July. As of Aug. 21, there was one one-bedroom, four two-bedrooms and one-three bedroom dwellings listed. That’s compared to nearing or exceeding 10 listings for each sized dwelling daily.

“We’re concerned. In our offices here in Belleville we’re seeing a lot more homeless people than we’ve ever seen,” said West, noting she’s had calls from North Hastings for housing as well. The centre supports homeless people, or those at risk of becoming homeless, by helping them find and maintain affordable housing within the county. Landlords come forward and make their listings known to them.

When Durham police Sgt. Sheri Tate calls up a landlord, they’re often expecting to hear bad news.

But Tate is responsible for the senior supports program for the police department, specializing in cases of elder abuse, and increasingly she’s finding herself advocating for homeless seniors and helping them find a place to live including sometimes calling up potential landlords to talk to them about renting to a senior.

That’s because when a senior ends up on the streets, it’s often police who get the call to help with the situation.

On first hearing about introducing a guaranteed basic income, I was skeptical, thinking it could bankrupt the country. That was 30 years ago. Today I believe its time has come and that it could even save billions of dollars in health care and thousands of lives every year.

Between 1974 and 1979, an experiment called “Mincome” was conducted in Dauphin, Man. Residents of this small city near Winnipeg were selected as subjects for a project that ensured basic annual incomes for everyone. Over three years, monthly cheques were delivered to the low-income residents of Dauphin, with no strings attached.