Tag Archives: homeless

It’s Christmas! How about those Homeless Addicts.

It’s Christmas! Just tonight CTV showed schoolkids doling out soup to the homeless and addicts at the soup kitchen. However, you would never know the time of year by the people writing to me and to Facebook about the possibility of a safe injection site in Waterloo Region, particularly Galt.

The worst I saw was a post on Facebook with a picture of a man having a seizure in a Galt mini-mart. The poster was angry that he dare to be homeless and a drug addict and collapsing in a public place. Particularly disturbing to me, as the wife, mother and grandmother of people who have epilepsy and, while controlled, could have a seizure anywhere.

I understand that people in Cambridge are upset after a little boy ended up pricked by a needle left in a park. I understand people suffering from mental illness can seem scary. Writing to your council telling them you want the House of Friendship to not open a new house to support recovering addicts, you want the Bridges closed and all people who seem to be addicts or homeless removed from your community is too much.

Public Health is conducting a survey on opinions concerning Safe Injection Sites for the provincial government. The Region of Waterloo has not yet had any report on this and certainly we have not had any suggestions on where this site would be or even what it would look like. Thank you to the people who have suggested also having help, whether mental or social services, available for people using the site.

Right now no one knows what drugs contain deadly fentanyl. Recently a 14 year old boy died from one mistake. Injecting drugs is only a small part of the drug problem. Some say safe injection sites can stop needles from being left in parks and secluded areas.  People using needles will not stop using them. Clean needles are given out to stop the sharing of needles which spreads hepatitis and AIDS.

For many years, Downtown Kitchener had the overwhelming majority of services for the poor and the lost, as council always heard from Mayor Carl Zehr. Now Waterloo has second stage housing for homeless men, women and children and Cambridge has the Bridges.  All homeless need a permanent home, not being driven from city to city. Many addicts have underlying mental problems

Every drug addict and homeless person is someone’s family and friend. I remember when a well known Kitchener homeless man died, his family sent donuts to the Kitchener police to thank them for their help.

It’s Christmas. A couple of weeks ago I attended a regular Sunday service at St. John the Divine Cathedral in New York City. I had walked up two quiet rain washed blocks from the subway stop by Central Park to the side of the cathedral. Two homes made of cardboard, blankets and a tarp snuggled between the buttresses  that held up the church. I walked past and around the corner and attended the service.

Sitting among the members of the church was a man with dirty hair and shabby clothes, obviously homeless, yet obviously accepted by the congregation. After the service, I passed the cardboard and tarps as I headed back to the subway.  One of the “homes” was empty. It seemed it belonged to the grubby man in the cathedral.

Are we going to be like the congregation of St John the Divine Cathedral and accept those in difficulty or are we only going to reject them and make the problem worse?

Here are some links:

Waterloo Region Drug Strategy

Safe Injection Site Survey

Obituaries of the Poor

by guest columnist, Birgit Lingenberg

Dino

Died November 21, 2014, aged about 55.

Died alone in bed. He was poor . He helped homeless women by letting them sleep on his couch. Left leg removed due to diabetes. Ate most of his meals at the Ray of Hope. Enjoyed the social aspect at the Ray of Hope. Family never visited him, he died in isolation. (Dino was well-known and liked in his building – Jane)

Dino had mobility issues and needed an electric scooter and then an electric wheelchair. Last winter he got stuck with his scooter. He spent about $1,100 to repair his scooter. He took the $1,100 out of his food money. This meant almost no food money for five months for Dino.

No funeral service in Waterloo Region.

Terry

Died on November 25, 2014 at age 65.

Died at St. Mary’s Hospital. He was poor. He loved Tim Hortons for their coffee and for socializing. He did not have much contact with his family. He ate mostly out of cans. He smoked a lot for about 50 years and had diabetes and emphysema.

I saw him about one week before he died. In my heart I knew he would die. I asked him if I could call him an ambulance and/or a family member.

He said, “No, I’m fine. I’m just tired and weak. AND F— the family”

I told him that he looks terrible and that I can see he will die soon. We cried together

Eight days later he died. No memorial service as of today.

Roxy

Died January 3, 2015, aged almost 44.

Roxy died at Grand River Hospital. She was homeless. She love to help people, hug people and she loved music and dancing.  She was into drugs and prostitution and you may ask why.

Her one son died in a house fire. Her boyfriend at that time was babysitting her son while she was out. Because Roxy did not pay back all of the money she owed her boyfriend for some drugs, the boyfriend set the house on fire and let her son die.

Roxy always hugged me and I always hugged her. We had a very special friendship even though we were very different people.  She once asked me to ask the people like you what you could do to help people get out of poverty. Cause of death was a probable drug overdose.

Mihal

Died January 11,2015, aged 56

Died alone in his bed. He was poor. He loved Tim Hortons for coffee and socializing. He loved his sister  very much. His brother-in-law  did not like him. He was embarrassed to be seen with Mihal (Mike)because Mihal had schizophrenia for many years.

Mike used to cry because all he ever wanted was to be able to meet with his sister 2 or 3 times a week. Mike had a heart of gold and liked many people. Many people liked Mike too. He was my ex-boyfriend and we had our wedding paid for before we broke up.

A beautiful visitation, memorial service and reception at the Henry Walser Funeral Home on January 16, 2015.

The coroner said the cause of death was a heart attack. Mihal’s diet included lots of coffee, lots of sugar, lots of carbohydrates and many meals at the Ray of Hope and the soup kitchen.

Annie

Died January 21, 2015, about 42 years of age.

Died alone in her apartment. She was homeless a lot in her life. She was poor. She was into lots of drugs.

I saw her injecting drugs into her main vein on her left hand on January 16, 2015 during Roxy’s memorial at the soup kitchen.

There was Annie sitting on the girl’s bathroom floor in the mid-afternoon. What a sad sight! Annie told one of her closest friends that she missed Roxy and wanted to be with Roxy.

The memorial was February 6 at the soup kitchen.

Scotty

Died between January 29, 2015 and February 2, 2015 at about age 38.

He died somewhere in Waterloo Region. He was homeless and ate many meals at the Ray of Hope and the Our of the Cold churches. He was into drugs and alcohol.  There will probably be a memorial at the soup kitchen in the near future.

Angie

Died in mid-January 2015 at age 42.

She was so beautiful and kind and loving. She was Polish. She was homeless and used drugs and was into prostitution. Annie once told me that she had no other choice but to be into drugs and prostitution because there was no other way to survive. She ate many meals at the Ray of Hope and the Out of the Cold sites. She used to coach surf in order to be warm at night. No obituary int he Record.There might be a memorial at the soup kitchen in the near future.

Andrew

Died on February 2, 2015, aged 30.

Died in the Cambridge Memorial Hospital. He was poor. He was friendly and caring.

On Sunday, February 1, 2015, he left a friend’s Superbowl party and was walking home. Not too long after that he was found frozen in a snow bank. Cause of death was cardiac arrest.  There was a visitation on February 6 and a funeral service on February 7 in Cambridge.

Do you recognize these people?

They are well-known in our community.

They are people that I have known anywhere from one year to six years. They are people who were loved by many and who loved many. They were people who all lived in poverty.

What can people do to help save the poor people? What can you personally do to help poor people? Did you know that most poor people live 10 to 20 years less than the middle class and the rich?

GET RID OF POVERTY — SAVE THE HUMAN RACE!

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Note from Jane

I know and Birgit knows that these obituaries are controversial in spots. Being poor herself, Birgit wrote out the original of this blog by hand as she presently doesn’t have access to a computer. The committee and I were deeply moved when she read them out at the Employment and Income Support Advisory Committee meeting on Friday February 6.

There are some negative comments about families in this blog. Please understand that family situations can be incredibly difficult and no one should be blamed for a situation. I have removed last names. If you are a family member of one of these people and would like their obituary removed, I will do it ASAP.

ALIV(e), a local poverty group, has a blog written by poor people. You can find it here.

Sincerely,

Jane

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 ALIV(e) blog

Homelessness and Housing. The First of My Five Priorities for the Next Term of Regional Council.

My pledge: I will work to get funding to build more homes for the homeless with supports. I will continue to work on the building and repair of affordable housing.

 

I went to my daughter’s apartment at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning to pick her up for her 25 km run at Pinehurst. (The Run for the Toad). I stepped into her apartment vestibule and there were two teen-age girls sleeping on the floor. One of them woke up when I began to dial my daughter’s apartment.

I said,”There are shelters you can go to. They have space.”

The girl said,” It’s full.”

I said, “If you ask there should be a motel room available if everything is full.”

I could see she was considering that.

On our way to Pinehurst, I said to my daughter that maybe this was their first night homeless but she pointed out that they smelled, so had probably been homeless for awhile. My daughter lives near Victoria Park and while she is sympathetic to the homeless, particularly teen-age girls, she doesn’t want them sleeping on the floor in her vestibule. Especially when we are now supposed to have enough shelter beds.

We were also concerned because not all of the men and teen-aged boys hanging around in the park are people those girls should associate with.

Another Out of the Cold site closed this past week. That makes 5 of the 7 volunteer-run church sites closed. Fortunately, the YWCA and Mary’s Place has stepped up with a 50 cot temporary location in a community room.I should point out that Out of the Cold opens on November 1st but there are shelter beds.

What can we do about homelessness?

The Homeless Hub website says the following about homelessness:

Ending homelessness means doing things differently, and not simply managing the problem through emergency services and supports such as shelters and soup kitchens. When people come to depend on emergency services without access to permanent housing and necessary supports, this leads to declining health and well-being, and most certainly an uncertain future.

When I was a librarian at a public library, we always had the homeless sitting in the library and looking at the newspapers. Shelters close in the day, other places only open for meals.

The best way to help the homeless is to get them a home, often with supports.

There are two types of homeless. First those who are temporarily homeless: teenagers kicked out of their home, men without a home due to family problems or job loss, mothers and children homeless due to domestic violence, evicted families. While not easy situations, these people can be helped to find new homes. Those under threat of eviction can go to the rent bank or other programs. This does not mean that we have enough affordable or supportive housing for all who need it, we don’t, but progress is being made.

The next group is those with mental health or addiction problems that are hard to serve. They may not want to go to a shelter for various reasons. I saw two men sleeping in an ATM vestibule as I passed by from attending an event the other night. What do we do?

We need more outreach workers to help the hard to house. We need, as always, when the problem is the least of our people: more supports, more mental health and addictions programs, nore housing with supports.  It is worth the cost.

A few years ago, Malcolm Gladwell wrote “Million Dollar Murray” about a homeless man who used up paramedic, police and  hospital resources at a tremendous rate. The people who run Supportive Housing of Waterloo have proof that the number of emergency calls surrounding some of their permanently housed homeless have dropped. The people now have supportive workers in their building that they can interact with.

Obviously, I am running on continuing the work that the Region of Waterloo is doing to build more affordable housing.  The Region, the Province and the Feds must work together to help house the chronic homeless. We also need to repair the housing built in the 60s,  70s and 80s that is now reaching the end of its life. New housing or rent subsidies for those in need of affordable housing are also needed, although the region is in the forfront compared to other cities in the province.

AS shown by Million Dollar Murray, it actually costs us less in the long run to help people.