Day 4 – Homelessness: It’s so Solvable

Day 4 – going well – and I am delighted to see the commentary/support/tweets/facebook/discussion back and forth in support of the 2010 Hunger Strike Relay to end homelessness. Keep it all coming!!

I’ve had many comments about the “wooden spoon” (our relay version of the Olympic torch) and the picture of me holding it and making a comment that I’m tempted to use it to get Harper and Gordon Campbell’s attention! I’ve been carrying the big wooden spoon every day and its weirdly empowering – Councillor Ellen Woodsworth who dropped by to say hello at Carnegie – gave me a friendly warning about it!!

Earlier in the day I attended an announcement by the Veterans Affairs Minister about a program in partnership with Wounded Warriors to assist homeless veterans in the Downtown Eastside. There are many veterans in this community who are suffering, and it is critical they get attention and help. Many of these veterans are Aboriginal people who for decades got no recognition and help for the service and sacrifice they gave to their country. I’m mindful of the fact that it’s a small initiative – but still, I want to do everything I can to make veterans aware that the federal department has a store front service at 310 Alexander Street, to assist with medical, housing, and pension needs. I will be circulating info in the community to let people know about the storefront.

Ok – here’s a good story. I met a cool guy who is in really good social housing – The Lux on East Hastings Street. He’s in a wheelchair as a result of being in hospital with that flesh eating disease. He eventually recovered after many medical setbacks, – but of course, couldn’t find housing that was affordable and suitable for his special needs. When he finally got into the Lux, one of the lucky few – his quality of life improved dramatically and he’s doing well. There are similar stories from other people too, as a result of finding proper housing. I mean, it’s just so much common sense that decent housing means quality of life for each and every one of us. And that’s why it is so frighteningly appalling, that housing ISN’T a priority for the feds. Sometimes I can’t accept it – why DO we have this crisis in Canada? Why ARE people destitute and living hand to mouth? It’s so SOLVEABLE after all. The decision to off load housing in the early 90s was such a bad decision – and underscores that public policy decisions have a dramatic impact on peoples’ lives and can increase or decrease poverty in Canada, depending which way the decision goes.

Let’s stop the race to the bottom and make the government act in the public interest, and not in the personal interest of already powerful elites.

The job now is to move forward and fulfill this basic human right to housing. I would be singing from the roof tops if the federal gov’t would take, steal, borrow, adopt, or whatever, with Bill C304 and make it happen. Failing that we gotta keep pushing up that hill (also called Parliament Hill) and make it happen.