Re: Boston homeless shelters overflowed all summer, MHSA

Graeme Bacque (gbacque@idirect.com)
Sat, 16 Oct 1999 22:03:57 -0400


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At 06:12 PM 10/16/1999 -0700, you wrote:
>In your community, are shelters overflowing earlier and earlier each year,
>as winter approaches?  If so, why?  What can we do to stem increasing
>homelessness?
>
>See below for a related article, regarding Boston, MA, USA:

It used to be in Toronto that the existing shelter space was pretty much 
taken up by the time Christmas would roll around, with the pressure 
starting to ease again in April or May, as the weather began to improve.

This scenario came to an end in approximately 1997 (approximately two years 
after the current government first came to power) when the shelters 
essentially reached capacity around the beginning of autumn. They literally 
haven't been below capacity since this time, and are frequently way 
overcrowded.

Over the past four years in Ontario social assistance rates have plummeted 
by an initial amount of 22 per cent - with further cuts to specific 
benefits continuing to erode peoples' income on an ongoing basis. Most 
recently transit fares for persons attending non-medical programs such as 
Alcoholics Anonymous were cut - assistance with transit fares is now 
available strictly for medical appointments.

A moratorium was also placed on further construction of affordable 
housing  (with more than 17,000 units already scheduled for construction 
being cancelled), rent controls were greatly diminished in scope and the 
procedure for evictions was fast-tracked. (Previously here evictions could 
only occur when a court order called a writ of possession was issued. This 
process generally took at least a number of weeks. Now the eviction process 
has been entirely removed from the realm of the courts and is handled by a 
tribunal of government appointees.)

Despite our Premier's claim that 540,000 jobs have been created by his 
government over four years, full time employment at a decent wage is harder 
than ever to find - many of these 'jobs' he refers to are/were either 
part-time employment or temporary contract positions. (Heck, it still 
counts as a job being 'created' even if after ninety days it no longer 
exists, or if it pays an insufficient wage to even cover your rent).

Listening to reports of the actual number of persons being laid off or 
otherwise having their source of livelihood downsized out of existence in 
all probability gives a much more accurate picture of the employment 
situation than any mumbo-jumbo about 'job creation.'  We're talking about a 
whole new standard of what constitutes 'employment' - secure work seems to 
be a thing of the past.

Despite this, governments would still prefer to have all of us believing 
that homeless persons are either lazy, or alcoholics/junkies, or 'mentally 
ill' - or all three. In other words, blaming the victim serves the 
interests of the powerful far better than does any attempt to take any 
responsibility for rectifying the situation. These social value judgments 
also provides a handy pretext for repression in the form of police 
crackdowns, 'community treatment order' laws, and (as has already occurred 
in New York and is now threatening to manifest in Toronto) massive purges 
and warehousing of homeless persons.

Welcome to the new millennium!
--
Graeme
<http://webhome.idirect.com/~gbacque/gbacque.html>
*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   *
"Your anger is a gift." -- Rage Against The Machine 
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At 06:12 PM 10/16/1999 -0700, you wrote:
In your community, are shelters overflowing earlier and earlier each year,
as winter approaches?  If so, why?  What can we do to stem increasing
homelessness?

See below for a related article, regarding Boston, MA, USA:

It used to be in Toronto that the existing shelter space was pretty much taken up by the time Christmas would roll around, with the pressure starting to ease again in April or May, as the weather began to improve.

This scenario came to an end in approximately 1997 (approximately two years after the current government first came to power) when the shelters essentially reached capacity around the beginning of autumn. They literally haven't been below capacity since this time, and are frequently way overcrowded.

Over the past four years in Ontario social assistance rates have plummeted by an initial amount of 22 per cent - with further cuts to specific benefits continuing to erode peoples' income on an ongoing basis. Most recently transit fares for persons attending non-medical programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous were cut - assistance with transit fares is now available strictly for medical appointments. 

A moratorium was also placed on further construction of affordable housing  (with more than 17,000 units already scheduled for construction being cancelled), rent controls were greatly diminished in scope and the procedure for evictions was fast-tracked. (Previously here evictions could only occur when a court order called a writ of possession was issued. This process generally took at least a number of weeks. Now the eviction process has been entirely removed from the realm of the courts and is handled by a tribunal of government appointees.)

Despite our Premier's claim that 540,000 jobs have been created by his government over four years, full time employment at a decent wage is harder than ever to find - many of these 'jobs' he refers to are/were either part-time employment or temporary contract positions. (Heck, it still counts as a job being 'created' even if after ninety days it no longer exists, or if it pays an insufficient wage to even cover your rent).

Listening to reports of the actual number of persons being laid off or otherwise having their source of livelihood downsized out of existence in all probability gives a much more accurate picture of the employment situation than any mumbo-jumbo about 'job creation.'  We're talking about a whole new standard of what constitutes 'employment' - secure work seems to be a thing of the past.

Despite this, governments would still prefer to have all of us believing that homeless persons are either lazy, or alcoholics/junkies, or 'mentally ill' - or all three. In other words, blaming the victim serves the interests of the powerful far better than does any attempt to take any responsibility for rectifying the situation. These social value judgments also provides a handy pretext for repression in the form of police crackdowns, 'community treatment order' laws, and (as has already occurred in New York and is now threatening to manifest in Toronto) massive purges and warehousing of homeless persons.

Welcome to the new millennium!

--
Graeme
<http://webhome.idirect.com/~gbacque/gbacque.html>
*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   *
"Your anger is a gift." -- Rage Against The Machine

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