I sometimes wonder why society puts so little effort on resolving social issues like homelessness. It’s a no-brainer: each of us needs a place to stay safe and warm at night or end up sick if not dead in time. That fact will never change no matter how advanced our technology becomes or how products and services become more prolific and convenient. Despite this, I’m still amazed at the apathy shown addressing this.
Sometimes the answer is hiding in plain sight.
I regularly visit a paperbox that offers a free magazine containing available job listings. While the ROI going through this magazine sucks worse than maple through a straw, I go through it in the hope of finding something, and also show people I’m considering all avenues in my job search.
In the rack above that magazine is one occupied by 4Rent.ca, which is an apartment rental listing magazine that is also free to take. I took the one listed in the picture and perused through the ads. I wasn’t looking for a place to stay: I currently have a place to say. Something in my gut told me to take a gander. What I found confirmed a lament often expressed in my videos on YouTube and here on my blog:
“I find it appalling that a basic need – shelter – is priced like a luxury item”.
That’s a truth, not an exaggeration. Both renting and owning a home these days requires not one but two salaries to maintain, and is considerably worth more than the cost of an expensive car or a world cruise.
One would think that exorbitantly pricing one of the three basic needs — shelter, food, water — would be one of the worst sins imaginable. I mean, this is not a video game console, a flat screen smart TV, or glamorous clothes we are talking about and which we can do without. If a person does not have a place to stay, the chances of that person surviving drops faster than the career of a one-hit wonder band.
Shelter is essential to life.
Yet, in this magazine, descriptive phrases similar to the following found on 4Rent.ca’s home page appear:
“Conveniently located at Steeles and Hurontario, Kaneff’s twin white towers…”
“Feel the sophistication the moment you walk into the elegant lobby of 18 Brownlow….”
“Realstar’s Towns on the Ravine redefines premium rental living in North York….”
“Live in an exclusive neighbourhood with easy access to all the amenities…”
“Premium living”, “elegant”, and “exclusive”. Flowery descriptive phrases used to describe a consumer product or service. Compare that to the dictionary definitions found for the word “house”:
(noun) “…a building for human habitation, especially one that is lived in by a family or small group of people.”
(verb) “… provide (a person or animal) with shelter or living quarters.”
No marketing blurb, no glossy ad, or commercial on radio or on television will ever use the above definitions in their pitch. Never the phrases “Guaranteed to keep your belongings safe from theft!”, “Works hard to keep you dry from the rain!”, or “Ensures you get a good night’s sleep on a cold wintry night!” shall ever be read in any rental or realty advert.
In just 30,000 years, shelter has transformed from being a means of protection from predators and the elements for Man during hunting and gathering expeditions to an over-expensive consumer product that requires pretty pictures and words such as the ones used in the embedded image in order to be sold. You know, like the iPhone, BMW, Guess? Jeans, and other useless things we can do without.
The moment the word “shelter” lost its meaning is when the importance of securing such for all, without opposition and without question, also disappears.
Thanks for reading!