Original post: November 23, 2022 9:46am
Updated: November 24, 2022 4:32am

A group of researchers is looking into the root causes of homelessness in Canada and will be making a stop in Chatham-Kent on Thursday.

Over the past year, and a half, the research team from the London-based Lawson Health Research Institute has travelled to 28 locations across Canada to meet with organizations, community leaders and those with lived experience.

Now they are circling back to a large number of these communities, including Chatham-Kent, to conduct separate forums in each community to discuss some preliminary findings and allowing the opportunity for residents to share some of their thoughts, ideas, and concerns.

Assistant Scientific Director Dr. Cheryl Forchuk says after visiting 28 communities, there appeared to be one common misunderstanding about homelessness in smaller communities, including Chatham-Kent.

“Their initial view was that it was a local issue that they were concerned was not being handled well,” Dr. Forchuk explains. “It is important to look at things locally and to care about your neighbours, but it’s also really important to understand that it’s actually a national issue, and that we need to see implementation of a national strategy.”

Forchuk says Chatham-Kent, like many smaller rural-urban centres, wasn’t prepared for some of the issues that became exacerbated during the pandemic.

“What we found over and over again with this type of community was a migratory pattern from the smaller communities to the larger ones, and some of those surrounding rural areas, specifically we found this with Chatham-Kent, were experiencing homelessness for the first time. They had no resources to accommodate that because it had not been an issue previously.”

Thursday’s forum takes place at St Andrew’s United Church in Chatham and will further the discussion with local community groups and leaders to share some of their thoughts, ideas, and concerns.

Meantime, there are still some spots available for next week’s housing summit organized by the municipality and the Chatham-Kent Association of Realtors. The Attainable Market Housing Summit takes place November 29 at the Chatham Capitol Theatre.