This is coming from someone who is an asshole...

Graeme Bacque (gbacque@idirect.com)
Sun, 10 Oct 1999 04:56:15 -0400


The latest from the man who thinks sweeping homeless persons  from public 
view and imprisoning them in giant soap bubbles is a suitable alternative 
to providing permanent housing. Well, they say that we get the kind of 
politicians we deserve...

Graeme

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Jakobek gets face to face with homeless

Three-week tour of streets inspires budget chief's plan
to solve city's `moral issue'

By Philip Mascoll
Toronto Star Staff Reporter

After three weeks of walking Toronto's streets, catching nits
from one man sleeping on the street and turning over another to
find two broken syringes under him, Toronto's budget chief
says he is determined to resolve the ``moral issue'' of
homelessness.

Councillor Tom Jakobek said last night he will have his plan,
with ``costings and figures in shape to present to city council,''
within a month.

It includes tax incentives to encourage building low-rent
housing, council-provided temporary housing - including
inflatable domes placed in industrial areas - and a tough law
that absolutely forbids sleeping on the street.

Jakobek said he took the three-week walkabout - ``three to four
hours a day'' - to see the homeless problem in the raw and avoid
the established street worker groups. ``I am not being a
vigilante, but I didn't want `the official tour,' '' he said.

And he saw some shocking things.

At Victoria and Richmond Sts. in the downtown core, he turned
over a man who didn't respond when he prodded him. Under
the man were two broken syringes, the councillor said.

``I got nits (eggs or young lice) on my hands when I touched
another man. I had to get my hand disinfected.

``What I found was people in a pathetic state,'' he added. ``I
have to do something about it.''

The majority of the people on the street, he concluded, were
chronic alcoholics, drug addicted or mentally ill. He did not
include ``cultural'' street groups, like the so-called squeegee
kids, he said.

He also concluded that regardless of whether being on the
street drove them to be addicted or mentally ill, or whether they
are homeless because they are addicts or ill, something had to
be done.

``In winter, we have an emergency bylaw that takes them off the
street, but in the summer, it is worse.

``They overdose, they are knifed, beaten up, and there is no law
to assist them.''

He felt this was now a moral issue of caring for one's fellow
person.

"Twenty years ago when I started in politics, if someone was
lying on the street, we would not think twice about coming to
their aid,'' he said.

``Now, we walk past them.

``We have become so complacent it is immoral.''

Jakobek says his three-pronged attack will see immediate
temporary housing provided for what he estimates are the fewer
than 5,000 people who bed down on the streets of Toronto
every night.

The first step in his plan is a tax incentive program that
provides tax incentives for builders who construct rental
accommodation. That's the same as a program being used in
New York, where he went last weekend at his own expense, he
said.

In return, the builders would register with council their
undertaking to charge only half the market value rent on 20 per
cent of the units they build, Jakobek said.

``In return, they would get a 15-year exemption on property
taxes and an exemption from provincial sales tax during the
building.''

Jakobek says he has already spoken to several large developers
  and ``they will build, and very fast,'' if this program is instituted.

``It would cost the municipality zip and the provincial
government zip.''

The second step of the plan would be the temporary housing.

``We do not have enough temporary accommodation that
supplies the needs of the people from the street,'' he said.

The designated emergency housing now at Moss Park, for
example, cannot help the chronic alcoholic, drug addict or the
mentally ill, he said.

Jakobek pointed ironically to the temporary housing that was
quickly found to fill the needs of the 5,000 people brought over
from Kosovo.

They were housed in facilities that catered to their needs, and
where they could be treated medically and in other ways, he
said.

`'And I don't estimate the number of homeless we have in
Toronto is as large as 5,000,'' he said.

The temporary housing he envisages would cater to everything
from bathing through delousing and medical treatment, to drug
and alcohol treatment and care for the mentally ill.

He said the inflatable domes or ``bubbles,'' would go into
industrial areas because ``I don't want to get into fights in the
residential areas.

``If you want to be cold, face it, this is warehousing. I want
them somewhere where they can be processed and cared for
properly. I want to be able to treat them, and bathe them and
talk to them.''

The third step would come ``when and only when'' the first two
steps are in place, he said.

`'There has to be a law that says `You can't sleep on the street,'
'' the budget chief said.

The city could also empower the same social workers who are
now handing out coffee, clean needles, condoms and blankets
to the homeless, to take the homeless to shelters, he said.

``First encourage them to go. If they don't co-operate, bring
them in,'' Jakobek said.

He does not want a police wagon going around picking up
people who sleeping on the street, so he sees empowered social
workers as the answer.

Anyone who is against the enforced street clearing should ask
the citizens of Toronto what they believe should be done, he
said.

And he is determined to push for ``50 bubbles or 10
warehouses or whatever it takes.

``This is coming from someone who is a bean counter,'' the
budget chief added.