Mamas for Mamas Fights Invisible Homelessness in Kelowna, 2023

Mamas for Mamas, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting mothers and families in need, is taking a stand against invisible homelessness in the Okanagan. As a community-driven initiative, Mamas for Mamas aims to shed light on the often-unseen struggles faced by mothers and families who find themselves precariously housed, struggling to make ends meet, and at risk of homelessness.

Invisible homelessness refers to individuals and families who may not fit the conventional image of homelessness but are still living in unstable and insecure housing situations. These are Mamas, Papas, and Families who are precariously housed, paying a significant portion of their income on rent, or staying with friends and relatives, often moving from place to place in search of shelter.

In response to the urgent need for long-term, subsidized housing for families, Mamas for Mamas has launched the “Fill the Housing Gap” campaign. The campaign aims to address the gaps in the system and support families in finding long-term housing solutions. Fill the Housing Gap has a goal to raise $250,000 that will go directly to help those living in invisible homelessness. To kick-off this campaign, the Stober Foundation has pledged $50,000 towards solutions and have challenged others in the development, real estate and home building world to match them. Brent Marshall of Business Finders, and a local philanthropist and man who faced invisible homelessness as a child himself, and is dedicated to ensuring the cycle stops here, stepped in to pledge the first $50,000 match. Mamas for Mamas is now calling upon individuals and groups from the development, real estate, and construction sectors to join in and support to help reach their campaign goal and be a part of creating lasting change for families in need.“The income line is too low for most to be eligible for subsidized housing, and when they are eligible the waitlists can span years. As we know, the interim options available for $1000 a month are akin to relative homelessness,” says Shannon Christensen, founder and CVO, Mamas for Mamas. “Mamas, Papas and Families often fall into the latter category and are more often than not, outwardly invisible in their struggle. They still go to work full time, the kids still go to school, they shower at a local gym, and wash clothes at a laundromat. They just can’t afford $3000 a month for housing, and if they can it’s usually not for longer than a month after paying the deposit plus first and last months rent.”

According to shocking statistics, 1 in 5 children in BC live in absolute poverty, and 1 in 2 kids from lone-parent households have lived in absolute poverty for the past 19 years. This means that 50% of children from single-mother or father households face housing and food insecurity regularly before the age of 6. Moreover, even those who fall just above the poverty line struggle to find affordable housing, leading to relative homelessness and forming the majority of the invisible homeless population.

These invisible homeless include mothers with newborns and toddlers who end up living in their cars, camping in remote areas, or staying in unsafe domestic situations because they feel there is no other option. This pressing issue is compounded by the lack of accessible shelters and long waitlists for subsidized housing units, leaving families with nowhere to turn for support.

Mamas for Mamas has been providing essential support to hundreds of families facing invisible homelessness every year, but the scale of the problem requires collective action and a system-based approach. The organization firmly believes that stable housing is a basic human right and essential for the physical and mental health of children.

“We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge, and when our most vulnerable neighbors are seen, we all rise,” adds Christensen. “Homelessness is not just an individual or family issue; it is an us issue, a societal issue. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of these families and create a community where everyone has access to safe and stable housing.”

Mamas for Mamas urges the community to come together and support the Fill the Housing Gap Campaign. Your donation, whether big or small, can make a significant impact on the lives of these families who have fallen through the gaps.

For more information about the campaign and how you can contribute, visit: other side of homelessness.

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