Hidden in plain sight: Homelessness photo exhibit reveals a gritty reality

The facts about homelessness in York Region and a PhotoVoice Exhibit representing those who are "hidden in plain sight" will be presented at York University on Monday.

York geography Professor Valerie Preston (right), director of CERIS – The Ontario Metropolis Centre, and Jane Wedlock, coordinator of the York Region Alliance to End Homelessness, will speak about immigrants at risk of homelessness in York Region, part of the growing poverty in the 905 suburbs surrounding Toronto.

People who are homeless in the suburbs, or at risk of becoming homeless, are found on friends’ sofas rather than in shelters or on a subway vent, according to Preston. In the suburbs, the homeless are most often immigrants who have been in Canada for 10 years or less. To cope with the high housing costs in the suburbs and their low incomes, recent immigrants often sublet and share accommodation. The resulting overcrowding often leads to family tension and conflict. Limited social services in York Region exacerbate the housing challenges facing recent immigrants.

The presentation by Preston and Wedlock, At Risk in the Suburbs? Immigrants’ Housing Needs and Challenges in York Region, takes place Monday, April 27 at 2pm in 280 York Lanes and will open a meeting of the York Homelessness Research Network. The network is an initiative through which York University faculty and students are working with members of the community on the issue of homelessness in the Greater Toronto Area, including in York Region.

A community-based PhotoVoice Exhibit, hosted by the York Region Alliance to End Homelessness, will open at 4pm at the Eleanor Winters Art Gallery,129 Winters College. The exhibit, Hidden in Plain Sight, Living Homeless in York Region, will be at York from April 27 to May 1.

The PhotoVoice Exhibit contains 33 photographs taken by people from across York Region who self-identified as being homeless or at risk. The photos document their living circumstances and illustrate the many barriers and challenges they face as a result of exclusion, marginalization and the attitudes and beliefs of people who are housed.

For more information, visit the Canadian Homelessness Research Network Web site.