Re: Force homeless people into shelters during cold weather?

Graeme Bacque (
Thu, 26 Nov 1998 05:25:56 -0500

Tom Boland wrote:

> Do you support laws to force homeless people to go to shelter against their will when weather turns severe? Why or why not?

Force is never a solution. It will only cause people to go into hiding, and would likely compromise the ability to implement
other strategies in the future by destroying any likelihood of trust.

Force in this context is a sign of a community suffering from a bankruptcy of social consciousness, and a ruthless attempt to
impose an arbitrary 'solution'.upon a vulnerablte population. Basically the motive appears is 'out of sight, out of mind'
rather than any compassion over someone's plight. I have the feeling that severe weather serves  merely as a pretext.

If shelters were a safe and reasonable alternative to the streets, you wouldn't have to force people to go. The real reasons
for peoples' reluctance needs to be examined.

(Personal aside: I've been in a position of having to use several different shelters in Toronto when I was younger, and if I
were to find myself homeelss again, I would not return to any of these places. No privacy or security for the person or their
belongings, arbitrary curfews and other rules, and the constant threat of violence - I witnessed a fatal stabbing at one place
in September of 1981. I'd rather 'couch-surf' with friends, or if all else fails, find a decent place to squat.)