Conversation 1 – Collaboration

Solving homelessness starts with listening.

That is why Oak Tree 7 is looking different this year. Rather than ask the community for stories as we have done in the past, this year we are sharing stories from experts and community members who have knowledge, experience and solutions to share around homelessness.

This video features Julie Porter from the Welcoming Streets Initiative run by the Guelph Community Health Centre and Stephanie Pellizzari from Knar Jewellery, a downtown retailer.

About Welcoming Streets – An innovative partnership between Guelph Police, the Downtown Guelph Business Association, and the Guelph Community Health Centre, The Welcoming Streets initiative supports downtown business owners and vulnerable individuals. The program allows a peer Outreach Worker to support business owners and vulnerable individuals by responding to situations that do not require the help of police. Learn more here.

About Knar Jewellery – Knar Jewellery is passionate about bringing the world’s finest jewellery and timepieces to Guelph. As a long-time fixture in downtown and a proud community supporter, they have seen how homelessness has increased and impacted the downtown area. Wanting to be part of the solution, they have built a close working relationship with the team at Welcoming Streets.  Learn more here.

What we heard from this conversation:

  • Homelessness impacts our entire community and the pandemic has amplified the challenges for those living without a home
  • Housing is a complicated issue especially for individuals who are living with complex and multiple needs
  • We each need to work through our personal discomforts and bias around homelessness
  • While there is no single solution, Guelph and Wellington are closer to solving homelessness than many of us think

Our Oak Tree 7 listening has taught us that:

  • Homelessness is unbearable                    
  • Homelessness is a system failure
  • Homelessness is closer than we think
  • Homelessness is solvable

What did you learn? Questions for you to reflect on:

  • How has this video changed your perception of homelessness?
  • Before The Welcoming Streets Initiative, what options did downtown businesses like Knar Jewellery have?
  • What specific comments or observations made you uncomfortable?
  • What preconceptions or biases about homelessness did this video challenge?
  • What is the link between a stable home and using community supports?
  • We loved Stephanie’s reflection of “I want to do better.” What can you do to be better around this conversation?
Infographic showing participant experience toward homelessness

Learn More: Stats and information compiled and shared by the County of Wellington from the 2021 Everyone Counts report. See the full report here.

Watch Video #3 – More And