The winter weather is tough, but it is even tougher for those struggling with housing needs. There are many in the valley who are without the things we take for granted, and the cold weather makes it even harder to survive.
"I think that it is important to understand that the traditional idea of people living in the street isn't adequate for understanding homelessness in a rural area. It doesn't mean that we don't have people who are facing insecure housing in Drumheller," explained Community and Family Services Coordinator for Drumheller Salvation Army, Jenessa McAuley. " People who could qualify in that category could be people who are in temporary or unstable housing. We have a lot of people who could maybe couch surf. It even includes people who are at risk of losing their house due to economic instability, so there is a bit of a spectrum there.
The wide spectrum of people struggling in the valley worsens when the weather is brutally cold. One of the struggles can simply be the task of getting to one place to another.
"Extreme weather conditions actually affect and intensify challenges experienced by low-income households as well. It is not just the people who may be without homes. People on low income may not have their own vehicle, accomplishing daily tasks get really challenging. like getting groceries or going to appointments. There have been a lot of people around town riding bikes and that is very, very challenging at nighttime or even during the day when you are looking at -25 degrees Celsius and -35 degrees Celsius with a wind chill," continued McAuley.
McAuley spoke about creating awareness when it comes to the different degrees of those who are struggling, and that one struggle, such as weather, can lead to others.
"It can create different levels of food insecurity like the 'heat or eat' dilemma. I think it is really important to understand that when a family is facing financial strain or factors that can contribute to poverty, it can create quite a domino effect," concluded McAuley.