I was driving around Toronto the other night as I was visiting some guards that I supervise. Now for the most Toronto is a beautiful and vibrant city, world class actually. The lights of downtown reflect a spectacular tattoo across the wet pavement of bustling Yonge Street while couples head up and down, looking for the promises Hog Town has to offer. The smell of street meat, exhaust fumes, melting snow and the promise of spring lingered in the air. It was a normal mid March night and I was enjoying the wisdom of talk radio.
To my left was Dundas Square. I sat waiting for the Yonge Dundas light to turn green thus allowing me to continue towards Bay and Dundas, when suddenly I saw something that brought back ancient, but still painful, memories. A shadow slowly began to come to life. It began as a shape, or should I say a form hidden in the shadows, that appeared to be growing. As the reflections of street lights and huge electronic billboards reached this unidentified form, the form transformed into something human.
I could see the person clearly now. The man was of an indiscriminate age of between twenty and fifty years old. This tenant of the lost shadows was dressed in tattered and ill fitting clothing that appeared less than adequate for the evening, or any evening that did not begin with the words, “a summers eve”. His hair was uncut and disheveled. This guys posture was just short of hunch backed, and his skin appeared tanned, yet from years of experience I knew it was a combination of dirt and windburn.
As I drove past I had a disturbing revelation. A tinge of anger and incredulous disgust entered deep into my soul. Fourty years and nothing has changed! I began to realize just how many other lost and forgotten souls I have encountered on my night patrols and the numbers reflected poorly on those who claim to be doing all they can for Toronto’s growing homeless populace.
So now you know what its like?
Not even close!
Now please do not judge all who try to help. There are many folks who donate time, money, sleeping bags, food and much more, and they deserve a gratitude of thanks. Then there are the others who make a living or advance their own careers and political agendas on the backs of this and all cities forgotten shadows, the homeless, working poor, mentally ill, and all who are forced to wander our streets. Yes, the marginalized of Toronto have created a booming business! A business that is filled with million dollar salaries, fancy lunches, corporate greed, charitable organizations making millions while claiming “not for profit”, and so much corruption with just enough red tape to insure all the players are protected.
The real losers in this game are the homeless and marginalized, the loving and caring people that freely donate to these corrupt organizations and finally the many volunteers who are on the streets feeding and befriending our lost.
Hiring consultants to study the homeless situation sounds like a responsible approach, but at what cost and how many studies are needed?
The yearly sleep outs staged by the elite. The counting of homeless people by students enlisted by overpaid politicians. Millions of federal monies transferred to the city, to combat this epidemic. All of this sounds so promising to the suburban family, yet it is a false illusion and a dangerous one.
The hard working suburbanite is lead to believe that homelessness must be the fault of the homeless because our tax dollars, as reported on the news, are in the millions and our government is taking care of the problem. The next thought may be in the lines of, ” why should I donate?” “Why don’t the homeless use the shelters and other programs my tax dollars are supporting?”
Are there no orphanages, poorhouses? A little Dickens reference maybe, but an attitude that still exists.
Each municipal election brings out a new action plan. Why, when there have been dozens upon dozens of these reports and studies completed by every municipal government since I was in diapers. Each one collecting dust on some dusty shelf in archives.
The answer is simple and shows the lack of concern by politicians who are more concerned with their own political careers and agendas than they are about their needy constituency.
If they where to use a study commissioned by the previous mayor they would have to concede credit to that mayor and his government. This would, in the eyes of the self serving hypocrite, take away from his glory. Better to spend a few hundred thousand or even a couple of millions on a fresh new study as apposed to actually using the funds to implement the findings of the studies already paid for.
How about the consulting firms reaping the financial benifets of producing redundant studies. The city uses the same consulting firms. All the consultants have to do is read their own work, revise it to fit the present day economy and collect the cash.
If the Mayor would drop his need for recognition and glory he would actually elevate his political position and obtain lots of positive recognition and glory that would be a strong success platform to use during the next election. Just get on with the job.
It would take a mayor with guts and determination to be better than the status quo. I do not see this happening in the near distant future.
Organized Corporate Charity
Big business headed by overpaid management, run on the backs of volunteers and underpaid social workers.
Seriously, people are starving and sadly dying on Toronto’s streets while CEO’s of charities, professing an agenda to help the poor, rake in million plus salaries. This is an atrocity beyond comprehension.
Do the research. These greedy, false advocates of the needy, are doing the absolute bare minimum. Just enough to appear genuine, yet eating caviar while many eat garbage from dumpsters. Evil in a designer suit, living a designer life, while those who donate believe. Wolves in sheep’s clothing!
The only persons and organizations more dispicable are the fake TV evangelists selling salvation and books. Send me a faith donation of $100 and I will send you a prayer cloth. Sew that seed faith today. Hoards of vipers and hypocrites!
I do put most organized charities in this category. Covenant House and The Salvation Army are exceptions. I have known their good works from personal experience.
Why do we still have homelessness statistics as high as ever? The answer comes down to a couple of things that must be understood.
Homelessness IS big business. Corporate greed, political agendas, a mislead public have created and maintain this epidemic.
Think about how many millions of dollars would never line the pockets of those who benefit from those living under bridges, in cars, on friends couches, in bus shelters and on the heating grates outside corporate offices.
No cure for cancer, too much to lose. No cure for the common cold, too much to lose. No cure for breast cancer, too much to lose. No cure for homelessness, too much to lose!
After 40 years I have not seen any change except the numbers of the homeless rise. Am I angry. Dam straight I am. Should you be, hell yes!