An Open Letter to Toronto Mayor John Tory;

(Please insert whatever Honorific by which you wish to be addressed here.)

 

I am writing because I am shocked to learn of a new mandate for Streets to Homes workers to NOT intervene in cases of the recently homeless. Is it honestly the City’s position to strip someone of their dignity, self-respect and to deliberately put them at risk of violence, sexual assault and human trafficking before offering assistance? Because that is what this policy change does. It has come to me through the grapevine, through sources I will not name, that Streets to Homes Workers will not intervene until someone is Homeless for 3 months. Mr. Mayor this is 3 months too long.

 

This I find extremely shocking after receiving the assurances of one of your aides, ”The Mayor is working to increase shelter beds, build affordable rental housing and improve TCHC. His interest in ending homelessness is not political rehtoric and he is determined to make an impact on the issue,” Matt, Special Assistant, Office of the Mayor. His words exactly, I have not even corrected his spelling error in our correspondence.

 

Mr. Mayor, put yourself in the shoes of the recently homeless, you are new to the streets, never been there before, you got no money, no nothing. You are scared, frightened, absolutely terrified and don’t give me any macho bullshit. You can’t turn to the police for protection; they look at you like a suspect and a criminal. It doesn’t matter that you have committed no crime. Where do you honestly turn? Do you go to Maxwell Meigen where you might wake up to someone caving in your skull with a fire extinguisher? Where can you be safe? City Hall has security, but you can’t camp out there because you will get fined and chased away. What are you going to do? Someone with sinister motives reaches out to you and offers to help you, to protect you…and that is where the nightmare really begins.

 

You see, Mr. Mayor, the sooner we can intervene, the sooner we get people housed, the less repairing of those people is needed. The longer you wait to intervene means there will be a greater degree of Post-Traumatic Stress. Quicker intervention means reduced strain on an already strained medical system. Also the quicker the intervention the quicker the person returns to being a contributing member of society.

 

I’m not suggesting preference be given to the recently homeless, nor should there be preference for those who have been chronically homeless. Preference should probably start with those most wanting to remedy their situation, but at the end of the day every single homeless person needs to be housed.

 

Holding You to Your Word

 

Timothy James Therien

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