“The way to cure our social ails is to treat them on the level of the individual, one person at a time and to also put into place measures that prevent the need for future intervention. But first our Society must be sterilized of the stigma that plagues it and the marginalized must be seen as complete people. We have to stop classifying people because each person is different and each person deserves to have their individuality respected. We are not cattle to be herded. That only leads to the slaughter. A system designed to address social issues on a macro scale will always fail because social problems will always cause unique individual problems which continue to be over looked.”
T J Therien
Poverty and Privilege are Birthrights
They are the Signs under which we were born
This is the New Astrology
And it has nothing to do with the way the stars are aligned
You don’t need a Seer, or a Reader of Tarot or Tea Leaves
To predict the outcome of a child born to poor parents
Sure, some will climb out of Poverty and into Prosperity
But this is the exception, not the rule
T J Therien
(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
The social-economic noose is being slipped around the neck of the middle class
We are lined up at the gallows of poverty, each waiting our turn
To be hung, necks wrung by the growing disparity between rich and poor
T J Therien
Three people died from exposure in the city of Toronto during the winter of 1995. This led the Municipal Government to introduce some safeguards to ensure it wouldn’t happen again. Fast forward to the first week of 2015 and yet again two people have died from exposure in a forty-eight hour period. Obviously the measures that the city enacted in 1996 have proved inadequate. Those measures include the opening of warming centers when the mercury drops below -15 C. What is not included in that formula is wind chill, length of exposure or whether people have adequate clothing. The people most in danger during extreme weather are the growing numbers of the city’s homeless.
Yes, I said it, the H word, Homeless. So who are the homeless? I’m sure you already have some preconceived notion of who these people are. You probably think they (the homeless) have mental health and/or addiction issues. You may be correct in your assumptions for a segment of the homeless demographic, but it is only one slice of the pie you are looking at and I would also argue in some cases that these issues developed as a result of homelessness as a coping mechanism.
But realize, a woman escaping an abusive relationship could find herself homeless, a child running away from physical, and or sexual abuse can also end up homeless, someone who has lost employment and had their Employment Insurance run out could very well find themselves on the street as the rate Welfare allocates a paltry $376 a month for housing. You can’t even find a room for that amount in this city and if you can it’s not one you would want to live in because you will have four and eight legged roommates by the thousands to keep you company.
Okay, to the point now. The problem is not how do we protect these vulnerable people during times of extreme weather. The problem is that there is Homelessness to begin with. We live in a rich country with plenty of land and resources and there just is no excuse for economic suffering. We waste Billions of dollars on frivolous things like the tens of millions spent in our Federal Government’s Economic Action Plan Ad Campaign. How far that money could have gone to housing the country’s homeless and feeding the country’s poor. These Economic Action Plan Ads really stick in my craw because it’s money essentially flushed down the toilet to tell us about programs that don’t exist when the News Media can do that same job free of cost to the government. That is what the Press Release is for. What purpose do these Action Plan Ads serve other than propaganda and lining the pockets of advertising companies that are across the border. That’s right, big fat cat advertisers in the United States get more government dollars than do the country’s impoverished.
One solution might be to require these condo developers to allocate a percentage of their units as low income housing. These company’s receive huge tax breaks and congest traffic with their projects and they don’t have any obligation other than to their stockholders. Gentrification of low income areas like Regent Park, Parkdale, among other areas is also a big reason why the ranks of homeless are growing in number, because there is no affordable housing being built to accommodate those displaced by Gentrification.
I know Politicians are going to say taxes will be raised if we tackle the issue of poverty because the money isn’t there for socialist programs. But homelessness costs more than programs that would remedy poverty. Costs associated with homelessness include staffed shelters, outreach workers, public health nurses, also healthcare as homeless people are usually not in a position to seek out preventative medicine and end up with conditions that are chronic and more costly to treat in advanced stages of an ailment. Just know, when Politicians begin their fear mongering that taxes are going to go up regardless. It is time to hold our politicians to task. It’s time Politicians start representing People and not the business interests they currently serve.
Think people, Toronto City Hall (Nathan Phillips Square) is currently undergoing a facelift that is going to cost taxpayers over $60 million and yet City Hall has been made a Park so that the homeless cannot camp out on the doorstep of the city. If there is one place the homeless should be able to camp out it should be City Hall. Sweeping the problem under the carpet isn’t going to make it go away; it’s just going to move down the street. In my opinion everyone who is Homeless should congregate en-mass on the steps of City Hall so the problem is visible and dealt with appropriately. Handing out fines to people who can’t afford to pay them doesn’t accomplish anything.
Realize that the Homeless are people to. They are mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, brothers and sisters. They are flesh and blood and deserve the same sympathy we display for a dog that has been abandoned or abused. Realize this, it’s our Humanity that makes us Human, without our Humanity we are just animals, or worst, monsters.
I believe kindness is in our DNA and has been suppressed by this dog eat dog ideology, but in nature Dogs do not eat Dogs, so the fact we use a term like dog eat dog only goes to show how unnatural such a philosophy is. It’s time we get back to what is in our nature. We are social creatures so why should our policies not reflect that. We are caring individuals, why do we let our government represent us in any other way. I spoke earlier of the plentiful resources this country can boast of, but it’s greatest resource is the people themselves. Almost ten percent of that resource is being wasted on Poverty.
T J Therien
Security guards armed with brooms
Sweep each and every park bench clean
Of unsightly human refuse
And the garbage littering the street
“No Loitering Allowed!”
Shoes without soles, shuffling shabby feet,
Forced to move on down the road
And the soulless demand bigger brooms
You know, it’s sad when a mangy stray mutt
Is afforded more dignity and compassion
Than a human being fallen on hard times
T J Therien