Union Gospel Mision helps homeless Vancouverites vote
Staff and volunteers with Vancouver's Union Gospel Mission are helping homeless people in the city register to vote in the upcoming federal election.
It's usually time for lunch around 11 a.m. at the mission's Downtown Eastside location, but on Friday Rachel Allen with UGM helped a small group of the city's homeless population with their paperwork.
"Every Canadian has the right to vote but in this community it has that much more impact for people," she said.
According to UGM numbers, there are currently 2,223 homeless people in Vancouver.
"They are facing barriers to voting like not having an address because they are sleeping outside, and not having proper ID," Allen said.
One of those voting for the first time this election will be 48-year-old Richard Vanderwal.
He explained he has been battling addiction and was homeless until a few weeks ago when he entered a recovery program at UGM.
"I feel like a citizen, like a citizen again," Vanderwal said when asked what it felt like to vote for the very first time.
UGM staff said 15 homeless people voted in last week’s Advance Polls using their help.
According to Elections Canada, 4,774,963 people in Canada voted early with 689,690 of them being in British Columbia.
Those who vote at UGM will be casting their ballots as part of the Vancouver-East riding.
B.C. polling stations are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day, which is Monday, October 21st.