Down, But Not Out
Homelessness is not an accident. Homelessness is not a problem. Homelessness is a political agenda. Why else would there be so many homeless people in the richest country that ever existed on the face of this planet.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Canada has received both a sharp reprimand and a strong call to action in the preliminary observations of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, Miloon Kothari , in his preliminary observations at the end of his fact-finding mission to Canada (October 22, 2007).“Everything I witnessed on this mission confirms the deep and devastating impact of this national crisis on the lives of women, youth, children and men,” said Mr. Kothari. “
Mr. Kothari’s preliminary observations are a devastating indictment of almost two decades of funding cuts by governments in
- a comprehensive national housing strategy, co-ordinated with the provinces and territories;
- a “large-scale” building of social housing units;
- an immediate extension of the federal government’s affordable housing programs, which are due to expire at the end of fiscal 2008;
- immediate steps to fully recognize international economic, social and cultural rights in all Canadian domestic laws; as part of a national housing strategy, specific initiatives directed at groups forced onto the margins, including women, Aboriginal people, elders, youth, members of racialized communities, immigrants and others;
- an immediate extension of the federal housing renovation program that is due to expire at the end of fiscal 2008;
- a comprehensive fix for the subsidy erosion faced by s.95 housing co-operatives; funding and resources to ensure that all Canadians have access to potable water and proper sanitation;
- an immediate extension of the federal homelessness program, which is due to expire in fiscal 2008;
- a consistent framework of tenant protection and rent regulation laws across the country that meet the standards set by international housing rights laws;
- additional housing allowances as part of a national housing strategy;
- inclusive zoning and planning practices across the country;
- a comprehensive and properly-funded poverty reduction strategy at the federal level, and with provinces and territories; measures to address the urgent, short-term and long-term needs of women;
- progressive legislation to address violence against women;
- creation, funding and implementation of programmes and policies to support women in the area of housing and domestic violence;
- funding and resources to a national Aboriginal housing strategy, on and off-reserve, that ensures that Aborginal housing and services are under Aboriginal control;
- a moratorium on oil and extractive activities at Lubicon until a settlement is reached with the Lubicon Lake Nation;
- specific targets and strategies, and independent monitoring, of the Vancouver Olympics;
- funding and programmes to sustain non-governmental organizations over time;
- the development of proper statistics and indicators for homelessness and housing insecurity.
Over the next four months, Mr. Kothari will continue to monitor the activities of the federal, provincial and territorial governments, and will work with non-governmental organizations in
Michael Shapcott, Senior Fellow
The Wellesley Institute
Tel. - 416-972-1010, x231
Fax - 416-921-7228
The lead editorial in the
Non-governmental groups should incorporate Miloon’s preliminary observations into our work leading up to the next federal budget.
While Miloon has completed the first stage of his fact-finding mission to
Miloon has asked for any additional information – statistics, stories, recommendations for action – that non-governmental groups want to pass along. Please stay tuned for details.
Here’s the Star piece:
A 3-point strategy for better housing
Canadians really didn't need a United Nations envoy to tour the country and announce that
But the visit last week by Miloon Kothari , the UN's special rapporteur on adequate housing, did shine a spotlight on the shocking lack of affordable housing options in a country as rich as Canada. Successive federal and provincial governments have pledged to address the problem, but all have fallen far short of meeting the growing demand for reasonably priced housing for low-income families and individuals.
What is lacking is a co-ordinated federal-provincial housing strategy, in effect a national plan that would ensure every Canadian has a decent place to call home.
Such a blueprint must take a three-pronged approach: new construction of affordable homes, rent subsidies and renovation of existing homes.
The three areas need to be tackled together, not in isolation or in any prescribed order. Rather, a holistic approach is best suited to addressing the problem.
As a key leg of the three-pronged strategy, it is imperative that
Thursday, October 18, 2007
This Saturday I am meeting with the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing
Topics For Discussion
1) Homelessness is NOT a problem, it’s a political agenda.
2) Economic slavery is the primary cause of homelessness. We are governed by people who owe their jobs to campaign funding from the upper classes. No wonder they refuse to protect poor people who are FORCED to work long hours for wages that are not sufficient to provide food and shelter for their families.
3) Subsidized housing & rent geared to income has created two classes of poverty. Those with government funded housing can live reasonably well and are the fortunate ones. Those without, live a daily existence on the edge of homelessness and have to spend money which should go to food on rent. They can not afford both. It’s either inadequate nourishment or homelessness. It is naïve to think that the failed policy of building so called affordable housing will ever come close to solving the homelessness issue. No government can afford to build enough housing units to ever make a difference.
4) We don’t need to build affordable housing; we need to afford the existing housing. There presently exists more than enough vacant housing to accommodate all of the homeless people. The problem is that people on social assistance or working at minimum wage do not have enough income to pay reasonable market rents. Our government has made war on the poor by failing to ensure a reasonable income for either of these groups. A livable minimum wage and reasonable social assistance rates would eliminate most homelessness. If government would give landlords a tax break for setting aside a portion of their housing units to rent at the rate provided for by ODSP or Ontario Works, we could eliminate most of the homelessness caused by affordability problems immediately.
5) Addictions along with physical and mental disabilities are major contributing factors in homelessness and next to economic slavery, are the most significant causes of homelessness. It is unconscionable that in the richest society that has ever existed on Earth, we still condemn sick people from these groups to homelessness and an early death. Any politician who says we can not afford to give these people proper care and a safe home is an outright liar.
6) There will always be a few people who choose to remain homeless, but if we give most homeless people a reasonable alternative, they will pounce on the opportunity and homelessness will be almost completely eradicated.
7) It is incredible that a multi billion dollar industry has been instituted to deal with homelessness when allowing people a livable income would eliminate its need at a fraction of the cost.
8) Police harassment, illegal tactics and brutality towards homeless people NEED TO CEASE IMMEDIATLEY. I could site several examples of police brutality, but the most outrageous is one where two police officers threw a friend of mine off a railway overpass in an attempt to kill him. He lived, but sustained multiple fractures to both of his legs. I watched as two police officers soused my squat and ALL MY WORLDLY POSSESSIONS in gasoline and set them on fire. We need a civilian watchdog to handle complaints about police. When I lodged a formal complaint, there was NO MEANINGFUL INVESTIGATION. Neither I nor a second eyewitness were ever interviewed. Every homeless person knows there is no sense in complaining about these events. Nothing is ever done except often there is severe police retaliation.
9) Homelessness in most underdeveloped countries is also a matter of economic slavery and political agenda. The difference is that there, a third element exacerbates the situation. Many of these countries rely on economic and material aid from the developed nations. Not nearly enough aid is forthcoming and corrupt political leaders and bureaucrats siphon off most of the cream so that little actually reaches the intended recipients. Add piracy to the mix and it’s easy to see why millions of people world wide continue to wander homeless and starving to death.
10) In spite of the lip service and band-aid solutions being offered up, homelessness and starvation continue to increase throughout the developed and undeveloped world at an alarming rate. Will it take violent worldwide uprisings by these desperate victims of social greed and avarice to facilitate meaningful action? If so, beware, for the time is rapidly approaching.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
I was homeless for ten years in
What I would like to discuss now is a revelation which was triggered by a comment a friend of mine made when we met accidentally last week.
I was downtown, walking on
After hugging and clapping each other on the back, the way people do, who love each other and have been separated for some time, I began telling them about my new life without drugs and alcohol.
At the point in my rendition when I was proudly proclaiming that next week I would be clean and sober for a whole year, Peter said, “We’ll have to have a party to celebrate; no, wait a minute, that’s how it all started wasn’t it?” We all laughed and Davy said with mock sadness, “Relapsed eh?” (meaning relapsed into a state of not using drugs and alcohol) We all laughed again.
Now those two words really shook me. Webster’s New Dictionary of the English Language defines relapse as follows: ‘to fall back or revert to a former state, especially to regress after partial recovery from an illness.’ Its’ most common usage when speaking of addiction is to describe a return to the use of drugs or alcohol after a period of abstinence.
What Davy meant as a very clever joke, got me thinking about lifestyles. I can truthfully say that I did not relapse into an old lifestyle. I am in the process of creating a whole new way of life for myself. One I’ve never tried before, but there is a very real danger to any recovering addict, and that is to relapse into the addiction which plagues most of our society’s so called normal population. It is this addiction which I believe has been unrecognised or undefined up until now which is a major cause of people like my two friends and I rejecting the values of that society and turning to drugs and alcohol.
Up until Davy’s joking comment, I had absolutely no intimation that one of the leading factors which led me, and probably a great many others, to a life on the streets was a rejection of an addiction which nobody officially recognises as one.
I say “Officially,” because the condition is so widespread that several phrases have been coined into our language to describe it, but no-one speaks “Officially,” of its’ threat to our society. “Conspicuous Consumption,” “Galloping Consumerism,” “Keeping Up With the Joneses,” “Shop Till You Drop,” all describe symptoms of this addiction.
Stress, nervous breakdowns, heart attacks, family disintegrations, drug and alcohol consumption, ever increasing debt and bankruptcy are many of the results of this unhealthy urge to spend money one can not afford on products which one does not need and often never uses. People go into unending debt to purchase products which wear out, break down or otherwise become useless long before they are paid for. Products which are perfectly useful are discarded to make way for purchases of more sexy although no more functional newer ones.
The whole value structure of society has collapsed into an evaluation of what you own and what you’ve got. If you have lots of money or lots of things you are a successful member of society. If you don’t, you’re a loser. What you’ve accomplished no longer has merit; it’s all what you’ve got.
If this trend towards materialism is not recognised for the dangerous threat to our civilisation that it is, I fear we will have no power to prevent the ultimate emulation of the
If you are an average working stiff like most of us, do you ever wonder why you have to work your guts out year after endless year, just to stay afloat?
We live in times of almost limitless abundance and yet a large portion of the population in the industrialized countries are homeless and hungry while many more are only slightly better off. Not here, you say! Ah, but just look around you. Even rich countries like Canada and the United States are plagued with throngs of homeless people on their cities’ streets.
But why, you might ask? Surely there’s enough here for everybody.
There are two simple answers to this question.
First, even though there is an abundance of resources to draw from, they are not limitless. Every single product that you or I use depletes from the total pool of available resources. In other words, the fact that I am sitting here working on this computer is depriving someone else of the use of the computer, the desk it rests on, the chair I sit in, the clothes I’m wearing, the apartment I live in, the heat, water and electricity I use and so on, for everything I use. This is true for you too. This is the fact that limits every single person in the world. There is only so much to go around. It is abundant, but IT IS NOT LIMITLESS!
Now, it is only natural, and rightly so, that each of us is primarily concerned with our own well being and the well being of those we love. This, by no means limits our responsibility to be concerned for the well being of the billions of other inhabitants on this planet. One of the most important concepts in every religion is the dictum,”Love thy neighbour as you love thy brother.”
Would you let your brother go homeless or hungry?
“But, what can I do?” is the obvious question. Of course you can’t provide for the needs of billions of people, but you can, with little or no cost, become part of the solution and the solution rests solely on the shoulders of each individual in this society. It does not rest with governments. They are powerless, to remedy the situation. Indeed they are an integral part of the cause. Waste is the problem and governments are notorious for waste.
You can make a difference in this world. All you need to do is become “Waste Conscious.” If you will remember, every time you leave the kitchen tap running, that it took resources away from a limited pool of manpower and physical materials to provide that water. That means that somebody else’s dinner is running down your kitchen drain, NOT WATER! Just turn off the tap and you will become part of the solution.
Every time you throw an old appliance into the garbage because you bought a newer model and no longer need this old, fully functional one, you are depriving someone who can use it, who really needs it, from its use. Just donate it to one of the many agencies available and you will become part of the solution.
Instead of throwing away that old dress you no longer wear, just donate it and you will become part of the solution and God will love you for it. And if you don’t believe in God, the person who receives it will love you even if she has never met you.
Every time you leave your car engine running, you are not only polluting the air we all breath, you are wasting the fuel that otherwise may have gone to provide heat for one of the poor people in this world who die annually from exposure. Think about it. Do you really want to be responsible for the suffering of those less fortunate than you are?
Get the idea? A simple change in your thinking will improve the lots of countless others for the rest of your life, and as the saying goes, “What goes around, comes around.” Sooner or later the benefits you bestow upon others come back to you a thousand fold and your life will become better. So, remember, it costs nothing to “Become WASTE CONSCIOUS and save the world.”
You’ve heard of the “two headed monster.” Here’s a twist, the “no headed two bodied monster.” Both bodies carry but one name and one philosophy. The name: George Bush, the philosophy, “nuke em” Both the senior and the junior bodies of this monster remain constantly on the alert for potential targets for their monstrous phallic weapons. Both of them in actuality are wimpy little dickless wonders who have never learned anything except how to be the big bully in the school yard. Since their reign as wanna be gods has transcended the millennium, they get my vote for Dickhead of the Millennium.
Dickhead of the Week
Here’s a target for you George. The world would be a better place if you nuked this guy off the face of the Earth.
Dalton McGuinty could qualify for Dickhead of the Year if he wasn’t such a pipsqueak. Since his effect in world affairs is as small as his mind, he’ll have to be satisfied with Dickhead of the Week.
In his quest to balance the budget on the backs of the disenfranchised, he has disqualified thousands of impoverished people from the special diet allowance increment to the basic social assistance pittance. This stipend was used by social assistance recipients with medical needs to purchase dietary supplements and nutritious foodstuffs. Good ol
As if this isn’t enough for our boy to win this coveted award, he has gone even further. In his quest to squeeze every drop of blood from the poor and the defenceless, he has targeted the victims of the government’s negligence in stopping the drug trade, namely the addicts. None of who ever got up one morning and said’ “What should I do today? I know, I’ll become a drug addict.”
Just when the epidemic of addiction is at an all time high and the need for treatment centres drastically under funded, Mr. McGuinty has cut budgets for detoxification centres resulting in closing down several and forcing the ones which remain open to eject their patients after only five days of treatment. This policy results in the elimination of the only true hope addicts had in making a come-back. But hey, the budget is looking good, even if our streets continue to look like those of a third world country with homeless addicts sleeping on the sidewalks throughout the winter.
If you have a suggestion for a “Dickhead award,” send us the story. Maybe we’ll have a competition to see who should receive the annual grand phallic trophy.
Now, I realise that Poor Billy Gates is hurting, and he desperately needs the more money so he can flog more of his crashing crap on an unsuspecting world. I highly recommend to all the greedy people that are depriving Billy Boy of his due, by using pirated software, PLEASE take next month’s rent cheque and send it to Billy. Of course, you should include the money that would otherwise be wasted on food and clothing for you children. Those kids really are a waste of money!
Who knows, maybe Billy would use some of it to develop an operating system that doesn’t degenerate into an unstable mess within days of installation. He might even include a registry fixer that a layperson can use without completely crashing his system. Better yet, he could develop a registry that doesn’t degenerate in the first place!
I wonder who out there is smart enough to create a foil for that money grubbers latest scam. “The Active Validation Tool”
Keep me posted if there is any progress.