(Fwd) State of Emergency Declaration re homelessness

Graeme Bacque (gbacque@idirect.com)
Fri, 11 Sep 1998 03:31:58 -0400


------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Date:          Wed, 9 Sep 1998
From:          Cathy Crowe <crowe@web.net>
Subject:       State of Emergency declaration re homelessness

This is a declaration put out by the Toronto Disaster Relief
Committee (committee membership at end of document). 

We seek endorsements from across Canada for this statement. 

The letter explaining and seeking endorsement is attached. The 
release date for our declaration is October 8 in the morning 
at the Church of the Holy Trinity in downtown Toronto. 

Cathy Crowe, RN

tel:  416  703-8482 (x117);   fax: 416  703-6190
crowe@web.net

====================================

STATE  OF  EMERGENCY  DECLARATION

HOMELESSNESS:   A  NATIONAL  DISASTER

-----------------------------------------------------------

We call on all levels of government to declare homelessness a
national disaster requiring emergency humanitarian relief. 

We urge that they immediately develop and implement a National
Homelessness Relief and Prevention Strategy using disaster relief
funds both to provide the homeless with immediate health protection
and housing and to prevent further homelessness.

Canada has signed the International Covenant of Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights guaranteeing everyone's right to "an adequate
standard of living . including adequate food, clothing and housing."
Homeless people have no decent standard of living; our governments
are violating this agreement by neglecting them.

Despite Canada's reputation for providing relief to people made
temporarily homeless by natural disasters, our governments are
unwilling to help the scores of thousands of people in Canada
condemned to homelessness. 

Morally, economically, socially, and legally, we cannot allow
homelessness to become "normal" in Canadian life. Inaction betrays
many thousands of us to a miserable existence and harms our society
for years to come.

WHY DECLARE EMERGENCY? 

Disaster Now:  
------------------

-- Crisis facilities are already overcrowded. People are ending up in
the streets, parks, and alleyways

-- Youth and families with children are the fastest growing 
population in shelters.

-- Major cities search far beyond their boundaries for temporary
housing for homeless families.

-- Homeless people face poverty, hunger, malnutrition, and increased
risk of violence, communicable diseases and compulsive drug use.

-- Homelessness causes psychological and emotional pain that can
exacerbate or precipitate agonizing deterioration of mental health.

-- Prolonged homelessness permanently harms people; ultimately, it 
can kill them by exposure, illness, violence or suicide.

-- Homelessness prevents people from maintaining their health, 
finding and keeping work, attending school and exercising their 
rights as citizens.

-- Conservative estimates concur that about 200,000 Canadians are
homeless.


Worse To Come:
----------------------

-- Shelters and other temporary measures provide at best a stopgap.
Crowding, insecurity and the risk of disease or violence means
prolonged stays harm people.


-- Homelessness is contributing to a developing toxic brew of disease
including HIV/AIDs, tuberculosis, hepatitis, sexually transmitted
diseases, and other communicable infections.

-- Prolonged homelessness for children harms them for life.

-- Twenty years of research has shown a continual rise in 
homelessness, linked to unemployment, reductions to social 
assistance, cuts to public housing and inadequate tenant protection.

-- Repeated government task forces, other studies, inquests and
recommendations have produced little action, though documenting that
the situation worsens yearly.


Declaring an Emergency:
--------------------------------

We urge all levels of government to declare homelessness a national
disaster now, as a first step in implementing a National Homelessness
Relief and Prevention Strategy, both short- and long-term. 

Immediate Short Term Measures:

-- Governments should reopen and maintain services for the homeless.

-- All governments should immediately reinstate or establish adequate
social assistance benefits.

-- All governments should make suitable public buildings available as
emergency shelters or hostels.

-- Even parks can serve as temporary refuges with mobile homes, 
tents, bath houses and toilets.

-- Governments should concertedly provide emergency medical relief,
including clinics, outreach, infirmaries, screening and immunization,
and public nutrition and hygiene programs.

-- Health strategies should especially treat the relationship
between homelessness and severe infectious or communicable diseases
such as HIV/AIDs, tuberculosis, and hepatitis.

-- Governments should grant immediate emergency funding to
non-governmental organizations (churches, charities, non-profit
groups, etc.).


Long-term Measures to be Implemented Now
----------------------------------------------------------

Governments should implement a "1 per cent solution."

All levels of government now spend an average 1 per cent of their
total budgets on housing. Adding another 1 per cent, and henceforth
devoting the total 2% to long-term housing, would take the single
largest step towards eliminating homelessness. 

Governments should maintain and fund social benefits and services on
a stable, long-term basis.

Crisis shelters and aid agencies should receive stable, long-term
funding until the homeless are housed.

Clearly, the homeless situation is worsening daily at an alarming
rate, as the factors creating it remain unchecked.  Any delay in
firmly and massively responding will only contribute to converting
the present crisis of suffering and death which is already an
epidemic which no civilized society can tolerate. 

==============================

This call for Disaster Relief is made by the Toronto Disaster Relief
Committee. 

Membership includes:  David Hulchanski, Professor of Housing, U of T;
Trevor Gray, AIDS ACTION NOW;  Brent Patterson, AIDS activist; Beric
German, Street Health AIDS outreach;  Maurice Adongo & Paula Dolezal,
Street Health mental health outreach;  Peter Rosenthal, lawyer and 
U of T Professor;  John Andras, co-founder of Project Warmth and
Vice-President of Research Capital Corp; Cathy Crowe, RN, Queen West

CHC street outreach nurse;  Rev. Don (Dan) Heap (Anglican), former
MP Trinity Spadina; Jeannie Loughrey, Anglican priest, Diocese of
Toronto;  Frank Showler, Member of Board of St. Claire's Inter-faith
Housing;  David Walsh, President Realco Property Ltd;  Sherrie
Golden, OCAP;  Sue Osborne, Housing Support Worker, Cornerstone
Women's Residence.

=========================



Toronto Disaster Relief Committee
c/o 168 Bathurst St.
Toronto, ON 
M5V 2R4

September 9, 1998

Dear Friends,

The Toronto Disaster Relief Committee is asking you to endorse our
call to have all levels of government declare homelessness a
NATIONAL DISASTER, which requires immediate, emergency, humanitarian
relief. 

We are a group made up of housing experts, academics, business
people, health care workers, social workers, anti-poverty activists,
and the faith community.  We have worked with homeless people,
studied homelessness, and have watched the homeless crisis worsen
daily.  We have bandaged the injuries caused by being homeless and
have attended the funerals of many homeless people.

We have asked ourselves these questions: Why is this crisis not
dealt with like the ice storm in Eastern Canada, or like the flooding
in Manitoba?  Why are governments not responding to the hundreds of
homeless people's deaths? Why are they ignoring the threat of
diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV/AIDs, and hepatitis which are
related to people's homelessness? Why is it that common sense
doesn't dictate that this is one of the largest and most serious
national disasters that Canada has ever faced?

Our answer has been to come together and to draw up a call for
Disaster Relief.  The most basic human rights of a section of our
community are being violated. We cannot sit idly by and let this
misery and death continue - the time now is to act.  We need massive
and immediate government intervention.

We appeal to you to endorse our call for action,
join our committee, and/or to set up your own committee and send out
a similar call. Attached is a form we are asking you to sign. Please
send it back to us as soon as possible. 

Sincerely,

Cathy Crowe RN, 
on behalf of the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee

Note: Members of the committee are listed at the end of the two page 
State of Emergency Declaration

***************************************************************

Call For National Disaster Relief for Homelessness

I  (name) ___________________________________, 

on behalf of (organization if applicable)

____________________________________   

endorse the call made by the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee to
have all levels of government declare homelessness a national
disaster and to respond with immediate short and long term
humanitarian relief.


Signed by:


Address:



Phone:  

Fax:

Email:  

*****************************************

SEND TO: 

Toronto Disaster Relief Committee
c/o Cathy Crowe
Fax: 416-703-6190 

or crowe@web.net 

or mail to:
Toronto Disaster Relief Committee
c/o Cathy Crowe, RN
168 Bathurst St. 
Toronto, ON
M5V 2R4


Committee contacts:
---------------------------


Cathy Crowe, 416-703-8482 (117)

Beric German, 416-964-2459


=========================

------------------------------------------

1998 UNITED NATIONS Human poverty index for industrial countries 
(ranked from best to worst): 

1. Sweden;  2. The Netherlands;  3. Germany;  4. Norway;  5. Italy;

6. Finland;   7. France;   8. Japan;  9. Denmark;   10. CANADA; 

11. Belgium;  12. Australia;  13. New Zealand;  14. Spain; 

15. United Kingdom;  16. Ireland;  17. United States ...

------------------------------------------------