Do blanket & sleeping-bag givaways "lets governments off the

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Tue, 17 Nov 1998 17:36:36 -0400


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3,000+ posts by or via homeless & ex-homeless people:
HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>
_______________________________________________

Do blanket & sleeping-bag givaways "excuse" lack of affordable housing and
government inaction against social exclusion?  What do you think?

A Toronto stockbroker asks a similar question in the article below:

http://www2.thestar.com:80/thestar/editorial/toronto/981117NEW01d_CI-ANDRAS1=
7.ht
ml
=46WD Toronto Star - November 17, 1998
         Greater Toronto Story:

BAY STREET BROKER HELPS HOMELESS
But John Andras frets that giving away sleeping bags
lets governments  off the hook

By  Catherine Dunphy - Toronto Star  Staff Reporter

  [photo]  Stockbroker John Andras snuggles into a sleeping bag
  he will be giving to the homeless as part of Project Warmth,
  an organization he helped to set up in 1993.


 The session with the Star photographer will have to be postponed. The
subject - this harried man in the Sears-issue shirt, behind the battered
desk littered with pink phone slips, in an office barely big enough for a
cheap metal chair for visitors - doesn't look anything like a Bay Street
boy.

 This man with the hesitant smile, the worn Mary Maxim-style sweater-jacket
tossed over cardboard boxes beside a file cabinet, a blue suit stuffed into
a crumpled plastic bag on the floor by the window, can't be one of those
Porsche-driving, adrenalin-driven money moguls. Can he?

 Well, yes and no.

 John Andras drives a minivan, but he is a Bay Street stockbroker, a
vice-president of the stock brokerage firm his father used to own that
takes up an entire floor of a very presentable building at the most
enviable corner of King and Bay Sts.

 He's definitely the younger son of a prominent family, growing up on
Russell Hill Rd., summering at the Georgian Bay cottage that's been in his
mother's side of the family since 1879.

 An Upper Canada College grad; a member of the Albany Club; a son of John
Diefenbaker's key man in Toronto; second cousin to Robert Andras, a cabinet
minister in the Trudeau government; a descendant of Sir John Alexander
Boyd, the last chancellor of Ontario.

 But also - and most importantly - inheritor of and earnest adherent to the
maxim his late father, K. (Kenneth) B. (Bertram) Andras lived by: to
paraphrase, those to whom much has been given had better work damn hard
giving back.

 Which is what John Andras has been doing for six years now - on behalf of
the homeless. And why he is submitting himself to a mid-workday interview
and photography session.

 ``I've got a pinstriped suit I can change into,'' he says. It's in the
black suitbag hanging on the back of the office door. He knows his part in
this media pageant.

 He's ``the suit,'' the respectable one, the businessman, in the otherwise
ragtag, non-chic, angry and increasingly worried world of the people
working with and lobbying on behalf of society's outcasts, the homeless.

 He's a broker.

 Andras works 30 hours a week for the homeless - and not just putting in
crucial phone calls to fellow Rotarians, but out there in a frigid parking
lot, tossing sleeping bags into the back of trucks along with everybody
else.

 He's a founder of Project Warmth, the organization that hands out blankets
and sleeping bags to people on Toronto's streets. This year, they'll
distribute 30,000 of them via 55 agencies. To do that they'll raise
$250,000 this winter.

 Last year, it was 20,000 bags and a four-day fundraising blitz to get the
$31,000 needed to capitalize on a one-time bulk deal on bags - which netted
$71,000. In '93, the winter Project Warmth began, it was 7,000 bags.

 Andras had reckoned Project Warmth would last one winter and it would take
500 bags, maybe, to prevent anyone dying or some other disaster until the
solution came down the pipes. He was sure one had to be in the works.

 ``We didn't have a successful scope on the problem,'' he says. ``We came
from a position of sublime ignorance. It was a gut response.''

 Along with founding partners Karen Fraser and Ron Smith, Andras never
wanted Project Warmth to last, let alone be as strong, thriving and
organized as it now is. Part of the blame is his. Andras is systematic and,
although he prefers to avoid this aspect of his life, connected. The
organization is now housed in 60,000 donated square feet in two buildings
on Eastern Ave.

 There's room for the Greater Toronto Community Clearing House that Andras
established in '94 to distribute blankets, bags and warm clothes, and its
offshoot, the IT (Technology) Works program, which trains youth on
computers, along with Raising the Roof, the only registered national
charity for the homeless and a fundraising arm for permanent and long-term
solutions for the homeless.

 But, like the food bank, this great Canadian sleeping-bag giveaway has
become too successful for its own good.

 At the back of his mind, Andras frets that the success of Project Warmth
has let governments off the hook, allowed them to sit back and do nothing.
There are moments he wonders whether it would have been better had he never
started it.

 ``The program is obscene,'' he says, sadly. ``There's something inherently
wrong in allowing people to sleep at night in a sleeping bag. It is not
right. It is not a substitute for a housing solution or for the fact there
is a lack of affordable housing in the GTA.''

 ``Do I remember the first time I met John Andras? I definitely do.''
Street Outreach Services' executive director Susan Miner is usually
forthright. But she says she needs some time to think of how to phrase her
story nicely.

 It was a meeting of a coalition of front-line groups working with street
youths that Andras appeared before, stiff and deferential in that pinstripe
suit. He wanted them to help hand out sleeping bags.

 ``I thought it was a stupid idea,'' says Miner. There's a pause. ``And I
said so. I said a sleeping bag doesn't protect you, it isn't safe and it
isn't practical. It doesn't give you a place to brush your teeth, turn off
the light and get out of the cold.''

 But she also can remember thinking that this businessman really cared and
really wanted to do something, that ``his idea may not be the best but it
was thrilling someone like him cared.''

 Now she looks on Andras as ``an incredible resource,'' someone moving
quietly and effectively in the background and as one of the most
gentlemanly people in the country ``in the truest sense of the word.''

 Andras is the kind of guy who remembers to pick up a box of Raising the
Roof's fundraising tuques to give to the youth, says Jamie Toguri of Native
Child and Family Services of Toronto.

 But he's also someone you take to meet one of this region's biggest
developers, adds University of Toronto professor and housing activist David
Hulchanski.

 He says he set up the recent meeting between Andras and Mitchell Cohen of
the Daniels Group because ``John has the financial know-how, the knowledge
of the needs of the homeless and the commitment to taking action, and Cohen
is the biggest developer around.''

 And because Andras has some ideas about forging new-style private and
public partnerships to get some housing built for the homeless.

To encourage private investment, he wants to offer what amounts to shares
in housing for the homeless, which would be backed by tax credits from the
federal and provincial governments, and be RSP-eligible.

 Andras also wants zoning for rental units changed from commercial to
residential; he supports Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman's idea of exempting
building materials from provincial and federal taxes and he'd like
governments to consider allowing people to build equity ownership even if
they are on welfare.

 He has talked to developers and, often, with the province's ministry of
housing officials because, he says,  ``The reality is governments are going
to have to be involved either through direct subsidies or tax credits or by
regulating changes in the types of facilities suitable for low-income
housing.''

 In the meantime, winter is coming, a cold one, and more and more people
are outside. They'll need blankets, sweaters, warm boots, sleeping bags,
the mundane necessities now; perhaps visionary housing can come later. A
patient man and a pragmatist, Andras is willing to work at both.

 ``Look, come tomorrow,'' he tells the Star photographer. ``I'll have a
sleeping bag and I'll lie down in the middle of Bay St., if you want me
to.''

END FORWARD
-
** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is
distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **

HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page
ARCHIVES  <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN
TO JOIN  <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <wgcp@earthlink.n=
et>
--============_-1300783892==_ma============
Content-Type: text/enriched; charset="us-ascii"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable

3,000+ posts by or via homeless & ex-homeless people:

HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>

_______________________________________________


Do blanket & sleeping-bag givaways "excuse" lack of affordable housing
and government inaction against social exclusion?  What do you think?


A Toronto stockbroker asks a similar question in the article below:


http://www2.thestar.com:80/thestar/editorial/toronto/981117NEW01d_CI-ANDRAS1=
7.html

=46WD Toronto Star - November 17, 1998

         Greater Toronto Story:


<paraindent><param>right,left</param>BAY STREET BROKER HELPS HOMELESS =20


But John Andras frets that giving away sleeping bags

lets governments  off the hook


By  Catherine Dunphy - Toronto Star  Staff Reporter

</paraindent>

  [photo]  Stockbroker John Andras snuggles into a sleeping bag

  he will be giving to the homeless as part of Project Warmth,

  an organization he helped to set up in 1993.



 The session with the Star photographer will have to be postponed. The
subject - this harried man in the Sears-issue shirt, behind the
battered desk littered with pink phone slips, in an office barely big
enough for a cheap metal chair for visitors - doesn't look anything
like a Bay Street boy.


 This man with the hesitant smile, the worn Mary Maxim-style
sweater-jacket tossed over cardboard boxes beside a file cabinet, a
blue suit stuffed into a crumpled plastic bag on the floor by the
window, can't be one of those Porsche-driving, adrenalin-driven money
moguls. Can he?


 Well, yes and no.


 John Andras drives a minivan, but he is a Bay Street stockbroker, a
vice-president of the stock brokerage firm his father used to own that
takes up an entire floor of a very presentable building at the most
enviable corner of King and Bay Sts.


 He's definitely the younger son of a prominent family, growing up on
Russell Hill Rd., summering at the Georgian Bay cottage that's been in
his mother's side of the family since 1879.


 An Upper Canada College grad; a member of the Albany Club; a son of
John Diefenbaker's key man in Toronto; second cousin to Robert Andras,
a cabinet minister in the Trudeau government; a descendant of Sir John
Alexander Boyd, the last chancellor of Ontario.


 But also - and most importantly - inheritor of and earnest adherent to
the maxim his late father, K. (Kenneth) B. (Bertram) Andras lived by:
to paraphrase, those to whom much has been given had better work damn
hard giving back.


 Which is what John Andras has been doing for six years now - on behalf
of the homeless. And why he is submitting himself to a mid-workday
interview and photography session.


 ``I've got a pinstriped suit I can change into,'' he says. It's in the
black suitbag hanging on the back of the office door. He knows his part
in this media pageant.


 He's ``the suit,'' the respectable one, the businessman, in the
otherwise ragtag, non-chic, angry and increasingly worried world of the
people working with and lobbying on behalf of society's outcasts, the
homeless.


 He's a broker.


 Andras works 30 hours a week for the homeless - and not just putting
in crucial phone calls to fellow Rotarians, but out there in a frigid
parking lot, tossing sleeping bags into the back of trucks along with
everybody else.


 He's a founder of Project Warmth, the organization that hands out
blankets and sleeping bags to people on Toronto's streets. This year,
they'll distribute 30,000 of them via 55 agencies. To do that they'll
raise $250,000 this winter.


 Last year, it was 20,000 bags and a four-day fundraising blitz to get
the $31,000 needed to capitalize on a one-time bulk deal on bags -
which netted $71,000. In '93, the winter Project Warmth began, it was
7,000 bags.


 Andras had reckoned Project Warmth would last one winter and it would
take 500 bags, maybe, to prevent anyone dying or some other disaster
until the solution came down the pipes. He was sure one had to be in
the works.


 ``We didn't have a successful scope on the problem,'' he says. ``We
came from a position of sublime ignorance. It was a gut response.''=20


 Along with founding partners Karen Fraser and Ron Smith, Andras never
wanted Project Warmth to last, let alone be as strong, thriving and
organized as it now is. Part of the blame is his. Andras is systematic
and, although he prefers to avoid this aspect of his life, connected.
The organization is now housed in 60,000 donated square feet in two
buildings on Eastern Ave.


 There's room for the Greater Toronto Community Clearing House that
Andras established in '94 to distribute blankets, bags and warm
clothes, and its offshoot, the IT (Technology) Works program, which
trains youth on computers, along with Raising the Roof, the only
registered national charity for the homeless and a fundraising arm for
permanent and long-term solutions for the homeless.


 But, like the food bank, this great Canadian sleeping-bag giveaway has
become too successful for its own good.


 At the back of his mind, Andras frets that the success of Project
Warmth has let governments off the hook, allowed them to sit back and
do nothing. There are moments he wonders whether it would have been
better had he never started it.


 ``The program is obscene,'' he says, sadly. ``There's something
inherently wrong in allowing people to sleep at night in a sleeping
bag. It is not right. It is not a substitute for a housing solution or
for the fact there is a lack of affordable housing in the GTA.''

=20

 ``Do I remember the first time I met John Andras? I definitely do.''
Street Outreach Services' executive director Susan Miner is usually
forthright. But she says she needs some time to think of how to phrase
her story nicely.


 It was a meeting of a coalition of front-line groups working with
street youths that Andras appeared before, stiff and deferential in
that pinstripe suit. He wanted them to help hand out sleeping bags.


 ``I thought it was a stupid idea,'' says Miner. There's a pause. ``And
I said so. I said a sleeping bag doesn't protect you, it isn't safe and
it isn't practical. It doesn't give you a place to brush your teeth,
turn off the light and get out of the cold.''


 But she also can remember thinking that this businessman really cared
and really wanted to do something, that ``his idea may not be the best
but it was thrilling someone like him cared.''


 Now she looks on Andras as ``an incredible resource,'' someone moving
quietly and effectively in the background and as one of the most
gentlemanly people in the country ``in the truest sense of the word.''


 Andras is the kind of guy who remembers to pick up a box of Raising
the Roof's fundraising tuques to give to the youth, says Jamie Toguri
of Native Child and Family Services of Toronto.=20


 But he's also someone you take to meet one of this region's biggest
developers, adds University of Toronto professor and housing activist
David Hulchanski.


 He says he set up the recent meeting between Andras and Mitchell Cohen
of the Daniels Group because ``John has the financial know-how, the
knowledge of the needs of the homeless and the commitment to taking
action, and Cohen is the biggest developer around.''


 And because Andras has some ideas about forging new-style private and
public partnerships to get some housing built for the homeless.


To encourage private investment, he wants to offer what amounts to
shares in housing for the homeless, which would be backed by tax
credits from the federal and provincial governments, and be
RSP-eligible.


 Andras also wants zoning for rental units changed from commercial to
residential; he supports Toronto Mayor Mel Lastman's idea of exempting
building materials from provincial and federal taxes and he'd like
governments to consider allowing people to build equity ownership even
if they are on welfare.


 He has talked to developers and, often, with the province's ministry
of housing officials because, he says,  ``The reality is governments
are going to have to be involved either through direct subsidies or tax
credits or by regulating changes in the types of facilities suitable
for low-income housing.''=20


 In the meantime, winter is coming, a cold one, and more and more
people are outside. They'll need blankets, sweaters, warm boots,
sleeping bags, the mundane necessities now; perhaps visionary housing
can come later. A patient man and a pragmatist, Andras is willing to
work at both.


 ``Look, come tomorrow,'' he tells the Star photographer. ``I'll have a
sleeping bag and I'll lie down in the middle of Bay St., if you want me
to.''


END FORWARD

-

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is=
 distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in=
 receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. *=
*


HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page

ARCHIVES  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN

TO JOIN  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <<wgcp@earthlink=
=2Enet>

--============_-1300783892==_ma============--