Something Better


Shelter Under Shelter By Purnie
“Shelter Under Shelter”, by “Purnie” on the Pixton comic making service. Permission given by author to use her work.

WARNING: COARSE LANGUAGE

The eagle-eyed of you who follow my blog might have noticed in a previous post that I mentioned I am moving out of the House of Friendship on December 28th, 2017.

It’s true. After over three months in a shelter, I was able to find a place well within my budget and the budget of those supporting my housing. In fact, it’s $25 less than the rent paid before my previous landlord sold the property (no hard feelings about that: he was awesome enough to give me a reference that made a difference. Thank you).

I can’t wait to get out.

Not because of the staff. They did an amazing job ensuring I had a roof over my head and food in my stomach. For that, I helped wipe the table and chairs after dinner nearly every night. My resource planner helped me find the proper mindset to look for housing. Bless the House of Friendship for all they’ve done.

It’s just that I had to deal some difficult residents who threatened me with physical harm on two occasions and with death in another, on top of the diplomacy I had to practice to peacefully coexist with others. While I’m not saying I could bring peace to the Middle East, I would at least help send peace talks in the right direction after what I experienced. Maybe I should ask the United Nations if there’s a job opening. I’ll gladly work at minimum wage.

Such experience in the shelter helped support my past arguments why the homeless will sometimes choose not to go to shelters. It’s not a slumber party for adults. It’s stressful. You have to deal with weird shit from some people, and hope you have a good understanding of them in order to predict the next weird shit move. There are days I can’t sleep because a new arrival in my room has proven to be a tough nut to figure out. It’s sometimes wiser to stay awake than go to sleep only to awake in a hospital bed minus a few teeth and in a lot of pain.

It also supported my concerns that we are headed in the wrong direction with urban development.  We just had our first major snowfall recently, with more snow and bone-chilling temperatures on the way for the Region of Waterloo. The shelters are now at overcapacity, being forced to either send homeless people to motels (an expensive solution) or turn them away outright. According to data from a  March 2013 Ipsos Reid poll,  “as many as 1.3 million Canadians have experienced homelessness or extremely insecure housing at some point during the past five years”.

So many people, yet we price a basic need like a luxury item through building expensive buildings only the wealthy can afford and the homeless will seek cover under the awnings of.

I’ve already given a city councillor my opinion about yet another expensive high-tech tower being built for Torontonians to move into, while ignoring the homeless (who either cannot find work like myself, or are millwrights, welders, contractors, or landscapers who would not benefit from this development).

We need more zoning for affordable housing, not more glistening gleaming towers that only benefit the wealthy. We need something better than the current urban mindset that punishes the poor for being poor.

That is what I will strive for once I move into my new room on the 28th.

Thanks for reading, and I wish you all a Merry  Christmas and a Happy New Year.

David.

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