Where would you go if you didn’t have a place to sleep? Sadly, this is a problem that over 70,000 post-secondary students across Canada face (Weissman et. al, 2019). When we think of homelessness, many of us picture someone living on the street or relying on public shelters for a safe haven, but many people without permanent residence make up the hidden homeless population. Those who find themselves among the hidden homeless rely on other means for shelter, like living in their car, couch surfing, or sleeping in public spaces (libraries or locker rooms). To avoid being without shelter, those with precarious housing situations will sometimes even remain in abusive relationships or rely on dangerous means (the sex trade or dealing drugs). As you can imagine, the added stress of worrying about where you’ll sleep tonight makes it difficult to concentrate on school work.
This February, in the lead-up to World Social Justice Day on February 20, the University of Alberta’s Days of Action (DOA) committee is shining a spotlight on post-secondary student homelessness. For the first half of February, various public spaces across the University will be displaying parts of a house where people are invited to respond to the question, “Where would you go when you don’t have a place to sleep?” The house pieces will be on display at the following locations from February 1-15:
- Augustana Library
- Cameron Library
- H.T. Coutts Library
- John W. Scott Health Sciences Library
- Rutherford Library
- Van Vliet Social Street
On the week of February 17, the pieces will be on display at Bibliothèque Saint-Jean for members of the Campus Saint-Jean community to add their input. On February 27, the completed house will be displayed in the atrium in the Student Union Building (SUB).
Responses to this question can also be anonymously shared through this form.
If you or someone you know is experiencing insecure housing there are supports available:
You can also visit the Days of Action website for information on other support services.