It’s time to speak out.
Today, on Toronto TV news there was a brief mention of a funeral being held for a homeless man who died recently in his makeshift shelter on the streets. Clearly, he did not know of any better options available to him or was unable to process information that could have saved his life. Do you care? I do! And now finally we have a mayor who has said he cares, too.
So, what’s next? There is a committee meeting that will provide a report in March, but it’s important to make sure that new voices and ideas are heard on the topic if we have any hope to institute lasting change. The current system is not working; costs increase while numbers of homeless people increase. Creating more shelter beds and pouring more money into social housing will not significantly change anything. To truly address this issue, we must first define the problem. We currently have several thousand shelter beds which are very expensive. We also have more than two thousand rental buildings owned and operated by the same city department, many of which are in disrepair while others remain vacant or rented to ”market rent” people. Both of these industries cost the city a lot of money but have failed to contribute towards any improvement in the numbers of homeless people or the lives lost.
Since I became involved in the homeless industry about fifteen years ago with Sister Susan Moran nothing has improved. I have tried to define the problems, so now we must ask, “are there are any feasible solutions?” The answer is a resounding “Absolutely!” However, in order to actually institute change there must first be an acknowledgement that things can and should change. Toronto can be a world leader, a city where homelessness is infrequent and handled quickly with innovation and compassion. (I expound on this in my book ”Urban Exiles: An Overview of Homelessness”) I have approached the last two mayors full of hope, but they passed me along to bureaucrats who were not interested at all in working together to make things better for everyone in this city.
Please think about this for a moment. If you were alone in this city and a personal situation arose where all your assets were gone and you had nowhere to sleep, who would help you until you could get back on your feet? If you can name a few people, consider yourself lucky! But, what if you had nothing and no one could or would help? What if this were to happen to your child or grandchild after you are gone? Are you ok with what Toronto is (not) doing? I know that things can be different, fast-tracked, innovative and millions of dollars cheaper. I am going to send this post to everyone who knows my efforts, research, advocacy and success with vulnerable people. Please support this project by sharing this post and donating so that I can keep the momentum going while encouraging conversation and innovation. I would love to hear from everyone who cares.