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Recession makes unlikely victims of homelessness

The lack of affordable housing and the recession have taken their toll on British Columbians, according to one housing advocate. Sue Noga, an organizer of next month's Homelessness Action Week, told 24 hours the need for affordable housing has expanded far beyond the confines of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside - leaving hundreds in the unlikely trap of homelessness.

"I don't think we were counting on the recession," Noga said about the economic downturn's effect on the province's already bad poverty rates. "I've seen people access social services who never thought they'd be walking through that door."

One case that painfully sticks out in Noga's mind is a 61-year-old construction worker who owned a home and two cars yet finds himself sleeping at a Surrey shelter and taking on day labour.

Examples like those will be driving Homelessness Action Week, which runs from Oct. 11 to 17. The focus of this year's campaign will be on affordable housing.

"We've seen a rapid growth of homeless populations outside the DTES," Noga said. "Affordable housing is a priority right now for every community in B.C." Organizers, with political endorsements from several local mayors, are calling for a national housing strategy from the federal government.

For more information on the upcoming campaign, visit

Matt Kieltyka reports for 24 Hours Vancouver

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