Vigil to remember those still struggling with homelessness
Monday was National Housing Day and local homeless advocates are using it to commemorate those who have died while living on the street.
Suzi Gursoy spoke to CTV News at "Between a Rock and a Hard Place", the homeless memorial installed in downtown Kitchener last year.
She was homeless more than a decade ago, calling it some of the toughest times of her life.
"You feel like no one is seeing you, or watching you, or hearing you," she said. "That you're invisible."
Gursoy organized a vigil to remember those who have passed away while living on the streets.
"It's affecting a lot of people and it's just getting worse. Something needs to change."
In 2021, the Region of Waterloo found that close to 1,100 people were experiencing some form of homelessness. In 2018, that number was 333.
"The people on the street, maybe one or two a day pass away, or maybe three," said Nadine Green.
She's a volunteer with A Better Tent City, an initiative that houses the homeless in dozens of tiny homes.
Green said a homeless person she knew just passed away over the weekend due to an overdose.
"When I saw this person the last time, I did give him a big hug. Just knowing that he passed away, I'm happy that I hugged him."
The region has a plan to build 2,500 affordable housing units in the next five years.
This year they're building 670.
CTV News reached out to the region but were told no one was available for comment.
Homeless advocates hope help arrives before it's too late.
"Check on your loved one," said Green. "When you see people, hug them. Tell them you love them because you never know."
Gursoy plans to host a vigil annually as a call to action for the most vulnerable.
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