/R E P E A T -- Canada Speaks: Salvation Army Report Reveals Public Perceptions about the Nation's Homeless/

Dignity Project Seeks to Address Persistent Myths About 150,000 Canadians Living on the Streets

TORONTO, May 25, 2011 /CNW/ - Canadians have spoken and they have something to say about homelessness in Canada.  A report released today by The Salvation Army provides a unique look into how Canadians feel about the more than 150,000 homeless living on the streets in cities across the country. The report, "Canada Speaks," is a part of The Salvation Army's ongoing Dignity Project - a national effort to educate and engage Canadians about the reality of poverty in the 21st century.

The survey of more than 1,000 Canadians, conducted this April by Angus Reid Public Opinion, revealed that a surprising number of Canadians have had first-hand experience with homelessness and related issues - nearly one-quarter of Canadians have received or are currently receiving assistance from a food bank or charitable group while seven percent reported that they have had to sleep on the street or in a shelter due to lack of housing at some point in their lives

Additional key findings include:

  • Approximately 40 percent of Canadians believe that most homeless people want to live on the street and in shelters.
  • Almost 30 percent of Canadians believe that a good work ethic is all you need to escape homelessness.
  • Nearly one-fifth of Canadians believe that individuals experiencing homelessness are always to blame for the situation they are in.
  • 43 percent of Canadians never give money to a homeless person on the street.
  • 40 percent believe that most homeless people are mentally ill.
  • More than one-third of Canadians are scared of homeless people.

Also:

  • Nearly all of the respondents believe that individuals experiencing homelessness deserve a sense of dignity.
  • 93 percent agree that no one in Canada should be homeless.
  • 86 percent of Canadians believe that housing is fundamental right for all Canadians.
  • 75 percent acknowledge that once you become homeless it is exceptionally difficult to get into housing

"The people of Canada have spoken and revealed much about their attitudes and perceptions about the nation's homeless," said Commissioner William Francis, leader of The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda. "We hope that through this report and the Dignity Project, we can continue to educate and inspire the public and work towards a Canada without homelessness."

The Salvation Army is highlighting the issue of homelessness this month as part of its annual May Red Shield Campaign and the ongoing Dignity Project. Money raised during the campaign will directly support those living in poverty today through social services like emergency shelter care, substance abuse counseling and employment training. The Dignity Project is designed to inspire and educate the public about what it means to live in poverty - and what they can do to help. Through online events, on-the-street outreach, traditional advertising, social networking and other communications tactics, The Salvation Army will engage Canadians about the reality of poverty in the 21st century.

"The vast majority of Canadians agree with The Salvation Army's belief that nobody in Canada should be homeless and housing is a fundamental right for all Canadians," said Commissioner Francis. "Now, it's time to come together, and address some of the myths that still surround the more than 150,000 of our fellow citizens who don't have a home and determine a solution to this persistent societal problem."

The Salvation Army provides direct, compassionate, hands-on service to more than 1.6 million people in Canada each year, restoring hope and dignity to the most vulnerable in society.  As an international Christian church that welcomes everyone, The Salvation Army's faith motivates its mission to serve and treat everyone with dignity and respect.

Financial contributions can be made by visiting www.SalvationArmy.ca, by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769), by mailing donations to The Salvation Army, 2 Overlea Blvd., Toronto, ON M4H1P4 or by dropping off financial donations at the closest Salvation Army facility in your area.

Donors can also support the May Red Shield Campaign by texting HOME to 45678 from most mobile carriers in Canada.  A $15 donation will be added to your monthly mobile bill.

Learn more at www.SalvationArmy.ca/

About The Salvation Army:

The Salvation Army is an international Christian organization that began its work in Canada in 1882 and has grown to become the largest non-governmental direct provider of social services in the country. The Salvation Army gives hope and support to vulnerable people today and everyday in 400 communities across Canada and more than 120 countries around the world. The Salvation Army offers practical assistance for children and families, often tending to the basic necessities of life, providing shelter for homeless people and rehabilitation for people who have lost control of their lives to an addiction. When you give to The Salvation Army, you are investing in the future of marginalized and overlooked people in your community.

News releases, articles and updated information can be found at www.SalvationArmy.ca

About The Red Shield Campaign:
The May Red Shield Campaign is an annual fundraising and public awareness campaign held annually throughout the month of May. The Salvation Army utilizes online, phone, direct mail and door-to-door appeals to solicit donations from generous Canadians. Giving to The Salvation Army offers an opportunity to invest in the future of marginalized and overlooked people in your community. On average, 86 cents of every dollar donated to The Salvation Army is used directly in charitable activities - exceeding the Canada Revenue Agency guideline of 65 percent donation efficiency.

SOURCE THE SALVATION ARMY

For further information:

Media Contact: 
Andrew Burditt
National Director of Marketing and Communications
The Salvation Army
416-845-8231
andrew_burditt@can.salvationarmy.org
www.SalvationArmy.ca/dignity

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THE SALVATION ARMY

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