Sunday, August 19, 2007

Homeless (and Sleepless) in Toronto by Louis Evan Palmer

Homeless in Jakarta is a reflection of abject poverty and high-level thievery.

Homeless in Toronto is a reflection of wilful neglect and high-level thievery.

The main difference between "have" countries and "have not" is that there's enough left over after the elite has taken their cut to fund a sizable middle class. However, when the middle class disappears, as is happening in the USA, then the gap will close and there is no more vicious animal than one whose sustenance has been taken away.

The great lie in the debate about homelessness is that they are on the streets by choice. It is obvious to even a casual observer that many homeless people have mental problems. Estimates run as high as one third of the homeless being mentally unbalanced to the degree that they are impaired. Another major issue for the homeless is drug and/or alcohol addiction. On its own, or as a result of the above, many of the homeless have physical health problems.

There is risk and danger to the homeless and to the people around them. Living on the street is a health and hygiene issue, a law and order issue, a public safety issue. To leave these people to the ministrations of angels of mercy and/or organs of the city health department is short-sighted and negligent.

To have levels of government haggling over the costs of necessary services - these are NOT frills! - is disheartening and maddening. The address is Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Each of those jurisdictions has a role to play.

While respecting their rights and dignity, the homeless cannot be allowed to jeopardize themselves and others, laws should be passed that will enable various authorities and agencies to remove people from the streets. Some belong in mental health facilities, others in hospitals or clinics. All need free or cheap (but decent) housing.

There are sufficient resources given the political will. We need effective management of the housing, strict security and safety for the tenants, access to programs and make-work programs as required. We've got to break the cycle and just leaving people on the streets won't do it. From a purely selfish point of view, society is only hurting itself by not dealing with homelessness.

Homeless (and Sleepless) in Toronto, Louis Evan Palmer, The Way It Can Be,
Copyright 2007 Louis Evan Palmer lives in Ontario Canada. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications.


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