Homelessness still a reality in Medicine Hat

By Hayley Ferguson
June 26, 2019 - 1:20pm Updated: June 26, 2019 - 7:23pm

 

Medicine Hat, AB - For the past nine years, the city of Medicine Hat has been working towards the goal of ending homelessness.

According to some, they have achieved that goal.

"Disbelief for sure. Anger. And honestly a bit of depression right.”

Those are the words that come to Rob Glasser’s mind when he hears people say the there is no homelessness in Medicine Hat.

Glasser, born and raised in Medicine Hat, moved home after losing his job and home in Calgary.

He was optimistic he would find a new job and a cheaper place to live – but that hasn’t been the case. 

Glasser says he has struggled to get any kind of income support while looking for a job.

With no assistance, Glasser has been forced to live in his car.

“Barely got any sleep last night. Maybe three or four hours tops. It’s never been pleasant. But it’s a necessity at this point.” Glasser said.

Glasser's story is familiar to a local pastor.

At Hope Street Compassionate Ministry Centre, Murray Kumm works with the poor.

He says although the city has done a great job of helping people, residents need to understand it’s still an issue for many.

“I think in Medicine Hat we don’t see the homeless on the streets like they do in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, the bigger centres,” he said. “We see a lot more couch surfing, people who have some income and when they get it have some limited housing whether it’s motels or hotels. But when they get to the end of the month and the money runs out then they are usually looking for places to go.”

Pastor Murray says that the myth of homelessness being non-existent can make it difficult to raise funds.

“It’s hard to really deal with that, because we are a poverty relief organization so when we are trying to raise funds around dealing with people on the streets and that, a lot of people tell us ‘but you have no homelessness in Medicine Hat.’” He said. “And that is true, probably through a lens, but the fact is we serve about 85 people on average every Sunday.”

Feeding the homeless isn’t the only thing Pastor Murray has done to help.

He is trying to help organize the funeral of Derek Wilcox, a local homeless man who died just last week due to pneumonia.

“At Hope Street I’ve done about four or five paupers funerals for people that I didn’t know very well, but they had friends. We go to the grave site and we do a little memorial service and put the ashes in the ground.” He described.

Jamie Rogers, manager of the homeless and housing development department of the Medicine Hat Community Housing Society, is hopeful that people will become more aware that this is still an issue in town.

“We say home is where one starts from, so having a home provides access. It’s safety. It’s a place were someone can just settle in and be themselves,” she said. “It’s a connector point for people. Everyone is worthy of a home. Home and housing is a fundamental basic human right.”

It’s that idea of home that keeps Glasser going.

As he hunts for employment, he takes pride in volunteering his time at the Champions Centre, a place for people in need to find clothing, bathing facilities, and a hot meal.

 

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