Imagine sleeping outside in sub-zero temperatures or moving from one temporary shelter to another. No one wants to be homeless, but 30,000 Canadians are on the streets every night.
The Salvation Army provides emergency shelter and strives to help vulnerable people find, keep and live in affordable and permanent housing.
A year ago, Shaun Shannon was preoccupied with the daily struggle to survive the streets. Today, he sleeps without getting harassed by others, has a place where he can shut the door, and wakes up in the morning to people who accept him for who he is.
“The Salvation Army has everything to do with the changes in my life,” says Shaun.
As a young boy, Shaun was convinced to join a gang where he would earn lots of money, make friends and belong to a close family.
By age 13 Shaun was living on the streets and addicted to heroin. Over decades he participated in criminal activity and eventually committed a heinous crime that resulted in a 17-year prison sentence.
After his release, Shaun couldn’t get his life on track and was homeless again.
“Living on the streets was worse than being in prison.”
The Salvation Army Meets Shaun
In November 2013 Shaun went to a drop-in centre to escape the frigid temperatures. Here he noticed a sign for The Salvation Army’s Housing Response Team (HRT) and asked the workers if there was any way they could help him. The Team assists people living on the street move into permanent, affordable housing.
“We come to the vulnerable, and together we find a home,” says Darren Graham, coordinator of outreach services.
From emotional support to housing searches to making a house into a home, the HRT works with clients, landlords and the community to help the chronically homeless rebuild their lives.
“The Salvation Army doesn’t just take you off the street and leave you alone,” says Shaun. “Going from the street to housing is a huge transition and they look after issues you can’t handle.”
Today Shaun lives in a one-bedroom apartment and his ties to The Salvation Army remain strong.
“There are no strings attached to getting help from The Salvation Army,” says Shaun. “All they want is for you to be safe and happy.”