[Hpn] Plight of homeless pondered in Montreal - NOT!

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Mon, 11 Jun 2001 15:30:14 -0700


whew! these quality-of-life articles are SO formulaic. the homeless face for
the article below is not a native son, he's branded a shirker ("the draft
dodger"), there's services available, and he don't want 'em.

not very sympathetic, eh?

chance

http://www.montrealgazette.com:80/news/pages/010610/5007657.html

The Montreal Gazette
Sunday 10 June 2001

Getting off the street

Plight of homeless pondered
ALYSON GRANT
The Gazette

He came north to avoid the draft into the Vietnam war 31 years ago. He's
been living on Montreal streets on and off since then, full time for the
last two years. A few days ago, he stood at the corner of Ste. Catherine St.
and St. Laurent Blvd. holding a dirty baseball cap out for money.

A few blocks away, at the Universite du Quebec a Montreal, 260 researchers,
theorists and field workers from across Quebec and parts of Ontario
discussed strategies for helping people just like him at a conference on
homelessness. 

"They need to get down to the gut level of who's on the street and why," the
panhandler said when told of the conference, "if they want to help such a
prolonged chronic problem.

"Some are pinned and have no choice, some have low intelligence and can't
cope, and others have just been really screwed around," he said, adding that
he probably belongs in the last group.

The 53-year-old man, who didn't want his name published, basically echoed
what Danielle Laberge, a sociology professor at UQAM, had to say about
homelessness. 

"It seems to me that a lot of people who don't really understand
homelessness think getting off the street is a question of will," Laberge
said. "People become homeless for structural and personal reasons."

Laberge, a member of UQAM's research group on homelessness, poverty and
social exclusion (known by the acronym CRI), which organized the seventh
annual colloquium held Friday, stressed the event's role in bringing people
from various sectors that work with the homeless into dialogue with one
another through seminars and debate.

This year's event, called Sortir de la Rue?, focused on strategies to help
people get off the street and to reintegrate into society. The question mark
in the title, however, is meant to ask whether reintegration is the only
solution. 

"We don't know whether it's even possible to get everyone off the street or
whether it's a good thing," said Marie-France Thibaudeau, a retired
Universite de Montreal nursing professor and member of Equipe Itinerants, a
group affiliated with the CLSC des Faubourgs that helps the homeless.
"There's no one solution," she said. "In fact, there are many solutions for
the many individuals."

Going by Laberge's rough estimate of the number of homeless people in the
city, that could mean 15,000 to 20,000 solutions. But she said no one knows
for sure how many homeless there are.

Laberge said Montreal has well-developed resources for helping the homeless,
but more social housing is badly needed. She also said more communication
between the police, community centres and hospitals regarding the homeless
would be good, as would more ties to homeless youth.

Her dream, however, would be to develop more effective work-reintegration
programs. "A lot of homeless people want to work, but have been out of the
work force for so long they don't know how to get back in."

That's not the draft dodger's point of view.

"I don't mind being homeless, actually," he said, putting money from the cap
into his pocket. "There's freedom and I'm not chained to anything."

- Alyson Grant's E-mail address is agrant@thegazette.southam.ca

Copyright  2001 CanWest Interactive and The Montreal Gazette Group Inc., A
division of Southam Publications, a CanWest Company.

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