Photograph of Omi


“Anyone can be a breath away from homelessness.”

“YOU were homeless?!!!” That’s what an old high-school friend exclaimed recently.

Yes, even an A student, serial entrepreneur, tenacious creative, and resourceful over-comer can become homeless, as I experienced several years ago. I found out it can happen to anyone, quicker than you’d like to find out.

I learned many things beyond my wildest dreams or worst nightmares. Couch surfing can only be done for so long. All too often, homelessness is complicated with not enough income. Many are often forced into bankruptcy. I was thankful for social assistance and food banks to help meet even basic needs. I collected bottles to make a few extra dollars, in a desperate attempt to keep up with my payments.

When all of this is further complicated by chronic physical, emotional and/or mental health challenges, low self-esteem and addictions, people often lose hope of things ever getting better and give up, too many even to the point of suicide.

I was re-traumatized each time I had to share my story again, especially when just shunted from one worker or counselor to another. I learned to live with boundaries imposed by others who don’t know how to deal with people in crisis. Finding out where all the holes are in the numerous, confusing and all too often conflicting systems has helped in my advocacy work since then.

A life-changing moment was when I was accepted into the Voices Influencing Change program. We learned to process our stories, however traumatic they were, and how to share them concisely and effectively. We were also trained in advocacy work, to educate others about the effects of homelessness and its compounding issues, and to motivate change.

My lived experience with homelessness has changed my perspective in life and I am thankful for even the smallest blessings – a hug, even a smile can make a huge difference in my day! Having a stable home again has helped me recover from multiple traumas, reawakened my dreams and goals, and given me new purpose in my life. I have chosen to turn the former mess of my life into a message to give hope and inspiration to others still dealing with homelessness, knowing that anyone can be a breath away from homelessness.

Together we can end homelessness!

Portrait by GBP Creative