9200 people are on the street or under sheltered each night in Toronto.
(Under-sheltered means they may have somewhere to sleep, but its precarious. Living with someone they don’t know or in violence, or in a shelter. Or being one paycheque and a health issue away from toppling over the edge.)
But this is no longer a big city issue. The numbers in communities in Ontario continue to grow in places like Port Hope, Kingston and Peterborough.
Yes, many people out there have mental health and drug issues but many do not. But many have not enough money to make ends meet. They struggle in the grips of poverty. Poverty day after day, year after year is exhausting. Its not noble. Its ubiquitous.
When I dropped stuff to the Scott Mission I was struck by how people were my age or older. People who are fierce. And who live on the edge find a way to make it work. They don’t want pity or to be patronized or for you to make them a teachable moment. I think we all must cease thinking of them as “those people, or “the needy, or “the homeless, or “the less fortunate” we are being kind to!
They don’t owe me a good feeling. Its not them vs us.
They are us. I am not saying every person is kind on the street! Not at all. Who is kind when survival is at stake every minute? In fact some are dangerous, because they live day after in the “land of the hungry ghosts.” But I do say we often have higher standards for the poor than we do for the rich. We want smiles and thanks you! Rich people don’t necessarily say thank you, or act polite. But we expect this from people who are on the street. We demand gratitude.
My friend David Sheffield says “The one in power is the one with the soup ladle.”
It feels good to be the giver, but it also means we still have options. To have to ask someone for help is a big step. And I always wonder: What was the first time they had to ask for cash? The first day they sat down and asked for money! Or the first night they went to the shelter? The first time they slept outside?
Whatever the motives, it was not a choice a person makes because they believe they have better options.
Its a complex issue for sure. I understand but a little.
I do know this: There is not “one kind of homeless person” just as there is not one kind of housed person. There is no “the homeless: It isn’t a nationality.
People who live under-sheltered are Canadians- human beings who like us are working at their edge-trying not to fall over.
( By the way, I am making these observations with a hot coffee in my hand, in a warm bed!)
Sox In the City: The Secret Santa Sox Fund; On Facebook and other means we raised $2512 in cash. Bought: 412 pairs of sox. Food, underwear. Items went to: Scott Mission, Sistering. Iqualit Nunavik. Kingston Out of the Cold Program. Plus: Cash e-transfer To Morningstar Mission, Napanee, Greenwood Coalition, Port Hope, The Men’s Shelter in Iqualit, Nunavik.
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Happy Holidays! xxoo, Deborah
Feb 8, 2020, Bowen Island. 3 pm and 8 pm~ 8 pm Show sold out! But 3 pm Matinee still has tickets
Feb 11, 2020, The Debaters Vancouver.
We have upcoming spring shows in Picton, Hensel, Kingston, Midland. Stay Tuned!