Will Powerful Friends inside government help to end homelessness?

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sat, 29 May 1999 19:34:44 -0700 (PDT)

Can having "friends on the inside" -- powerful advovcates within the
government or business communities -- help homeless people to get the means
to survive and thrive in freedom?

In "work from within the system" campaigns, what tactics might work -- or
fail -- to gain poor people's aims?

That poor people need Patrons -- protectors among the wealthy and powerful
-- is an ancient idea which still has currency.  Is it true?  What are the
idea's consequences in history and in the present day?

See below for a related article:

FWD  The Canadian Press - Friday, May 28, 1999


     By SUE BAILEY -- The Canadian Press

OTTAWA (CP) -- Federal officials have been silent as higher rents, housing
shortages and increased poverty force more people onto the street, says an
advocate for the homeless.

Nothing has been done, Anne Golden charged Friday, since the task force she
led made 105 recommendations in January.

"I'm not seeing any actions announced to date."

She also suggested the Labour Minister Claudette Bradshaw, put in charge of
homelessness in March, lacks political sway.

Bradshaw "has the heart and head for the job," Golden said of the former
social worker who spent 30 years helping the poor. "I'm not sure she has
sufficient support from her colleagues."

The federal government plans to have new programs for the homeless in place
before next winter, said Emily Thomas, Bradshaw's assistant.

Details have not been finalized because information is being gathered
nationwide on what the government already spends.

There are 19 federal departments and agencies that touch on the issue and
total spending isn't known, Thomas said.

Bradshaw's appointment to the homelessness post shows how seriously the
problem is taken, she added.

The minister will travel across Canada in July to see how federal programs
are working.

Golden, whose task force travelled to major cities and studied 170,000
profiles of the homeless, said the most pressing need is more low-cost

Five thousand more units should be built in hardest-hit Toronto -- where an
estimated 10,000 street people live -- and 8,500 units across Canada, she

Ottawa's share of the cost would be about $300 million.

Golden also believes the federal government should:

Devise a separate strategy to help native people.

Provide more help to provinces to house immigrants and refugees.

Develop facilities that link drunks and drug addicts to treatment programs
but don't cut them off cold turkey.

The January task force report showed almost half of those using shelters in
Toronto are families. One-third of the homeless are mentally ill.

Poverty is a major factor that leads people to the street and keeps them
there, even in good economic times, Golden said.

"They say a rising economic tide does raise all boats. But it doesn't help
if you don't have a boat, and sometimes you need a good life jacket."

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