Kingston City Council has passed a motion that aims to give a voice to the homeless population in the city, specifically targeting women and Indigenous Peoples.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, the Queen’s Medicine Municipal Day of Action group presented a motion calling for the inclusion of vulnerable and underrepresented populations in any discussions by the Housing and Homelessness Advisory Committee and any future decisions related to shelters, affordable or social housing etc., citing the importance of including lived experience in any decision making.
In the Zoom meeting, second year medical student Angie Saloman spoke in front of council as a representative of the Health Providers Against Poverty, adding their support to the motion. Saloman reasserted the importance of including marginalized voices in discussions surrounding the homeless.
“Speaking with people who understand homeless or housing issues because they themselves have lived it or are currently living it as their reality puts into context the reason we are doing this work and helps us avoid our biases,” said Salomon.
The framework of the proposal, moved by Councillors Jeff McLaren and Robert Kiley, will aim to engage the homeless and precariously housed, placing an emphasis on compensating participants.
Although the matter of compensation was met with hesitancy from some members, the QMed Municipal Day of Action emphasized the importance of compensating individuals who participate.
“We want to just open a dialogue and make it clear that people’s inclusion is not sort of tokenized” stated executive member Alanna Jane, “but it is truly valued and it is rooted in the basis of compensation and dismantling any systematic barrier that could prevent their compensation in these groups.”
Councillor McLaren also added that volunteers on other committees “have the time or have the resources to be able to spend the time on this, but in the case of precariously housed or homeless people, they are often very busy trying to survive… others don’t have that barrier to be able to participate.”
The compensation may not be monetary, but QMed Day of Action also made clear that any in kind compensation should be tailored to the needs of the participant.
The team of medical students also have offered to volunteer to help facilitate implementation.
The motion, passed unanimously after an amendment to wording, now calls for City Staff to present a report to improve the meaningful inclusion and participation of people who are homeless, are precariously housed or have a lived experience in this area.
The report is to be presented in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Owen Fullerton, Local Journalism Initiative, YGK News