Election Observations and Related Banter

                 Above York Region's break down of spending. Below Queen of The Food Banks
The Poverty Free Ontario campaign kicked off across Ontario Sept 23 with a number of areas garnering media and MPP attention, a good start to a campaign tailor- made for this upcoming Oct 6 provincial election.That being said, the coverage in local papers was rather vague about what the actual launch / campaign is, leaving readers believing some wonderful poverty reduction headway has already been made here in York Region, which it has not.It also misrepresented my point as I agreed only that York Region needs to work more collaboratively and less in silos - not that a good job has been done as it reads.

In my travels over the summer, what I have found are numerous(mostly) men living on the streets, in forests, or on the fringes and on couches or rooms often immersed in dangerous environments around dangerous people, and with affordable vacancy availabilities so low it's pitting groups of young people and old alike against each other for anything affordable, wreaking havoc in  low income communities.In Edmonton of the 38 murders in 2011 an astounding 20 were people who had been in hostels or homeless! That is danger my friends...and we have the same atmosphere brewing here where these men deserve a safe affordable choice too. Isn't murder and assault abuse? These men have no abuse shelters to flee to..Being killed, assaulted or recruited on the street is their option for housing or shelter after their 6 weeks maximum shelter stays are up? And that's if they are lucky enough to get one of only 25 beds for single men in the entire York Region. Men make up 90% of our homeless yet soon less than 20% of all available shelter beds here. Having to defend from often deranged or dangerous types because of lack of choice, that's fair? Or check into a place where a fellow patron who may not like you is checking their weapon out when you're booted in the morning? An otherwise meek homeless person could be terrorized into doing crimes or joining gangs he or she would not normally under such conditions, or worse yet, killed. Statistically men are murdered and assaulted far more than any grouping including women and children. Men too need homes and safety nets to survive! But that's okay they're men... they can handle it...Right.

Yesterday I came across a guy who receives ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program) as his financial support who must rent out a room in his 2 bedroom apartment to get by. This is typical because they don't give enough $ to afford your own apartment. When the "roomee" couldn't make rent (again), he had to scrounge to find it, and asked the guy to leave in order to get someone else who could pay. This was not the first time this scenario has played out for the single ODSPer. Generally the tenant hasn't paid because he can't and then will become homeless, which they HATE SHELTERS. At this point guys get desperate and did so here, returning with 5 men who forcibly made the owner wait outside whilst they destroyed his place and re-broke his already broken foot. His new "roomee" returned to the destruction just after they'd gone - dishes smashed, furniture wrecked, his bike(transportation) spokes all broken and tossed out the 2nd floor window. Upset, he grabbed a kitchen knife and went downstairs to warn these younger thugs not to come back. He was then charged.The 5 men were not arrested with the owner being too afraid to say anything.

I'm not going to say that if we had enough SAFE, affordable housing and some affective programs to help these men, that these crimes wouldn't have happened - or actually yes I am - if we did, we likely wouldn't have had this scenario play out, which fell short this time of any casualties. Not so lucky for the 20 homeless connected murdered this year in Edmonton.

I was astounded to hear that some of our York Region shelters - including Sandgate Woman's Shelter, Inn From The Cold and the Youth Shelters (single men and SINGLE women up to age 26) as well - allow guests to check weapons in and out when they leave. Our shelters allow a person to bring a gun as long as they check it in and get it when they get out..Wha-a-a-at!!? I wonder if the proposed new women's shelter will allow this practice? ...and where will these homeless women come from? Mark my words, like the subsidized housing here in York Region where we Ship people(mostly families) in from outside York Region currently, they'll have to do the same for in-the-works Belinda's Place Shelter, because frankly we don't have enough women homeless in YR to fill it, despite all the sound bites of false information (STATS BASED ON # OF PHONE CALLS, NOT BODIES) our local papers and politicians keep spouting. Good luck housing them after their 6 weeks are up though, since we have no housing for them, same as the men - although I heard there are transitional homes proposed for some single women as well. There is none for men in York Region whatsoever.I may sound like a broken record at times but I will keep on writing the facts because I despise bullshit...and should I continue to see and hear false or misleading stats or info in our media or from our politicians I will continue to point it out even when obvious...Like we need more affordable housing for all singles, all ages, all sexes....Speaking of stats the same Era Banner reported last Sunday that there was an "unexpected" drop in YR shelter use this year. Well here we go again, because it should have been expected with the opening of the new family shelter which should have (and obviously did) taken some of the load away from the women's various shelters resulting in less bodies per. 
There is absolutely no doubt that with the least amount of rentals stock to begin with IN CANADA (under 12%), that York Region is lacking (affordable) places for residents to live, and as the cost of living surpasses wage and income increases, the situation is being exasperated. Building affordable units should be built into the region's official plan but is not.. Why? Because they think it's easier (and cheaper) to build shelters that are only for temporary stays. Wrong.

Build affordable homes, not jails, to reduce crime, poverty, and homelessness.

I noticed when I first went out after signs were up that all the NDP signs in my area seemed knocked over or perhaps poorly placed but I had my doubts...next time out the Conservative signs seemed knocked over and after which I read something in the papers about this sign wrecking being a "crime"..and only mentioned Conservative signs..hmmm...then we had our own sign launch as well as POVERTY FREE ONTARIO signs and lawns signs went out...but I noticed the ones I placed at strategic locations are....Gone! Hmmm.. someone is afraid of poverty....I also found out that a certain party routinely break the sign placement laws by placing them too close to corners and bus shelters etc...I've noticed the blatant disregard every election...how come illegal sign placement is not a "crime"!?

This Video was made by..Disgruntled York Region Food Bank Volunteers who want to retire!

This Original Video Depicts problems low income kids face in York Region and Ontario

Tom out!

Close The Food Banks

YR Police have told Outreach workers not to give tents out to the homeless and slit holes in any they find in a new "policy" it would seem, trying to force people into unhealthy often dangerous environments against their wishes.
The Wild Flowers Cafe at 225 Main St S in Newmarket Ontario will house a combination Open Stage Fundraiser and Youth education award presentation Fri Sept 23 from 7PM - 9:30 PM. Musicians and singers/players welcome. Also featuring TP Entertainment presents..., Khryme Syndicate, Dulcimer Head, Fred Joly...more TBA. Proceeds to PACC.

With such a catchy heading I suppose you're expecting another well meaning but off-base rant from me about the evils of food banks and that we should close them...something the average person might not even fathom as a possibility..." How could we possibly exist without food-banks!?"... I can hear the incredulous cries now, but hey, this isn't even my idea...it came from a group of mostly, or almost seniors, who have been (wo)manning food banks as volunteers in York Region for the past 20 years, and are tired of watching people suffer the indignity of it for little food in the big scheme of things. People need much more than food banks can possibly provide, and healthier, and they know it, and face the frustration of that directly from people in dire need. So who knows better? Who better to have seen how demoralized and undignified the food bank system makes people feel than its volunteers? If they say it's wrong there must be a ring to it. So what does a group of frustrated food bank volunteers do about it? Why sing of course!

"50 Ways To Close The Food Banks"
was spearheaded by York Region Food Networker, Yvonne Kelly, who approached the food bank volunteers originally to meet, but later evolving into their desire to do a sort of protest song designed to send a message to politicians and the public, that food banks are not an answer. They, in fact, were started as a temporary measure in the 1970's and were expected to last a few weeks but have now become ingrained as part of the food security network. This perception of it helping is terribly misguided.

The biggest downfall to food banks, besides the fact that they are perceived to solve the problem by some and are not a dignified means to receive a basic need or that locations can be hard to access, is the fact that most do not include any fresh or healthy foods and provide rations for only 3 day a month. Why bother? Just give them more money in whichever capacity that needs to be and let them buy food they actually like... themselves! Egads! They don't need a food depot and we especially don't need to maintain them in order to keep volunteers or donors happy. There's plenty of room on the shelter band wagons for anyone interested in that.

At any rate somehow I got pulled into the heap and agreed to make a video recording of the group - aptly named Freedom 95...The Table-Knacker Choir! Hopefully I can release it soon.