Homelessness Tours: where take politicians in your community? FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Mon, 1 Mar 1999 21:28:50 -0800 (PST)

Take a politician (or CEO) on a Homelessness Tour!

In your community, where would you take them?  Why there?

See related article below, on a Tour organized by the
Toronto Disaster Relief Committee:

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FWD  Toronto Star - March 1, 1999
     Greater Toronto Story:


     She came, she saw and she was appalled.

     By  Catherine Dunphy - Toronto Star  Feature Writer

    During her 24 hours in Toronto last week, federal New Democratic Party
leader Alexa McDonough saw a filthy and dank rooming house on Sherbourne
St. where at least 25 people live and the city's emergency shelter at 60
Richmond St. where 90 sleep on mats on a concrete floor every night.

   She was ordered by a shaking homeless man to ``go and tell people we are

   Another demanded she look at his bandaged head.

   ``This is an example of what happens when you don't have food. Passed
out. Woke up with six staples in my head,'' Mike Fiddes said to her.

   She heard about the hundreds of children living in motel rooms on
Kingston Rd., mothers starving so their children could eat, hostels turfing
out residents into freezing nights, people paying money to sleep on the
floor of wretched rooms.

   ``At the present moment housing is nothing short of sadistic,'' a man
named Nicholas told McDonough. He pays $777, or 85 per cent of his income,
on rent, he says.

   ``I don't smoke, drink, go to movies. I have no life. I'm just circling
around (various soup kitchens) like a squirrel trying to survive.''

   She met Sam, who had just signed and handed over his $520 welfare cheque
to his landlady the day before. The landlady gave him back $100.

   That means he pays $420 a month to share a room with a man on the first
floor next to the grimy kitchen of what was once one of Toronto's finest
homes. He shares a filthy bathroom with about 25 others.

   On the third floor, George's room is small but tidy. He has a low-slung
table for his few small possessions and a mattress, little else. His
neighbour, whom he likes to help, has a bigger room plus a television and a
chest of drawers. He used to work before he got sick, George explains.

   Organized by the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, McDonough toured
what the group calls the ``Toronto site'' of a national homeless disaster.

   ``I am shaken to see all the pain and misery,'' McDonough said.

   Later, she said she understands why people are so angry with politicians.

   ``The people are saying `Do something.' ''

   The committee has repeatedly invited all the federal party leaders to
come to Toronto to see for themselves the devastation caused by
homelessness. McDonough is the first - and only - to reply.

   ``I'm not the person you wanted to be here tonight,'' she told about 60
homeless people having dinner Thursday night at All Saints Church. ``We all
have the same question: Why isn't the Prime Minister here?''

   She later said she was ``shocked'' when the Liberal budget ignored the
needs of the homeless.

   ``The budget is a clear signal the government has no intention of
providing any relief on the social welfare front,'' she said to a group of
front-line aid workers.

   She said the Prime Minister must see the ``wreckage'' for himself. But
she also said she didn't have any answers.

   ``I would be dishonest if I said I know how to convey this sense of
urgency. I don't know,'' she said.


**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is
distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior
interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**

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