Shea Smith is one of three creators of The Homeless Idea podcast. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)

Victoria podcasters talk homelessness first-hand

Three homeless residents created The Homeless Idea to give themselves a voice

Nearly one year ago, three homeless Victoria residents started a podcast to show people “street life from those who live it” and create change for those who need it. Now, with listeners on every continent, the hosts are confident their work is making a difference.

Collin Spires, Shea Smith and Scott Taylor are three homeless advocates who created The Homeless Idea out of frustration, feeling their ideas and side of the story are never heard.

“We’ve got a city that’s fighting us instead of embracing a quick solution. It’s the incorporation of the people on the street that will get the answer,” Spires said.

The Homeless Idea podcast was created by three homeless Victoria residents–Shea Smith, Collin Spires and Scott Taylor. (Screenshot)

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That’s been a big part of the podcast – instead of having city officials decide what is best for homeless people, the podcast pushes for solutions to come from those affected. Spires, Smith and Taylor regularly interview fellow homeless people and discuss city policy and bylaws.

“Our goal is housing first, obviously, and doing it properly,” Spires said.

He said Victoria has a “hybrid homelessness” where there is a mix of people from those struggling with mental health and addictions to those who have had full careers but stumbled upon hard times. Spires said he spent 23 years in business.

To him, homelessness is a national embarrassment for what he describes as an otherwise “incredible country.” “What we’re going to do 20, 25 years from now is look back and say ‘we treated the homeless like what?’,” Spires said. “It’s not Canadian. It’s not anything we stand for as a country.”

Referencing a Change.org petition to Save Beacon Hill Park that has received more than 27,000 signatures since June, Spires said if each of those people had donated just one dollar each month they could already be implementing solutions.

The hosts are hopeful though. In recent months a partnership between the City of Victoria and the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness has resulted in more in-person consultation with homeless people and the city has committed to having everyone housed by March 31, 2021.

The hosts are also working on season two of their podcast.

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