The Process of Men Becoming Homeless in York Region

I just fielded a call from a 61 year old man being targeted for eviction because his landlord doesn't like him. He has mental health issues and, as such, had a concerned friend make the initial contact call for him to me as he stood by. It was explained that this landlord, who owns only the one rental property as I understand it, just informed him he wants him out of his $500 per month rental room by Sept 1st. It's already August in a matter of days.

I asked him why? On what grounds is he asking him to leave?  And from what I could gather - nothing - other than he just wants him out and "if he didn't get out, He wouldn't believe the shit he would tell the cops he had done". The guy contends he's done nothing but doesn't want the hassles and doesn't know what to do. He doesn't know anyone local and didn't know who to call.

Hmmm.. my thoughts are that the landlord just doesn't want this big 6"1 guy who seems "different" living there and therefore is pushing him out. "Well",  I advised him as he got on the phone with me, "You don't have to leave". And even if he did, he could leave on his terms - when he's had adequate time to get another place.

Seems the landlord had a bit of 'buyers remorse' upon renting to the hulking gentle giant, or something, thinking he can just move people in and out whenever he feels like it because the guy wasn't the perfect fit to his mold...well it doesn't work that way I advised him, and that actually he didn't have to leave at all since his rent was up to date and he's not bothered other tenants or anything, "but if you really want to move still Tell him you'll do him a favour and move out by Oct 1st"..

In the York Region Social audit, Behind The Masks, completed in 2010, we identified major gaping holes in York Region's social net system, including much around inadequate housing, and highlighted an almost lack of supports for men.

Since the time of that audit - which took over 6 months of my life to help produce and considerable amounts of other people's - I've seen no noticeable changes made, and the status quot has continued on as if there was no input from the people at all. When questions were raised about certain programs nothing changed, and the same programs continued along receiving funding with the same proprietors as if they were doing a great job.

The local mainstream media continues to spin the feel good stories about these various organizations who are apparently filling all these wonderful "needs" and promote their fund raisers and 'programs" for their niche clientele - whilst those most in need people who don't fit their mold or are not interested to, fall prey to the other wolves of society  supported by entities like the Era Banner with storylines that create a false impressions like that we had a dire immediate need for another women's shelter .

Meantime men here die on our streets. No stories about them though.

What other type of "business" would ignore the voices of the users of their end products such as housing providers, shelter providers, assist programs and the like do, and get away with it? Would any be in business if it were up to the "clients" and there were more dignified options in place? I doubt it.

Since the time of the audit - which did not call for more women's shelters but did highlight the complete lack of men's beds / programs - Y.R. has allotted 9 million dollars towards building this new women's shelter (we have 7 in various forms already) including also transitional housing, with more proposed to come, attached to the Belinda Stronach Tribute being built currently, and originally slated at $5 million , which will be filled when it opens with women not coming from York Region no doubt. 9 million tax dollars and counting to house out of towners. Great idea! And what of the costs to maintain it? And who decided B.S. should get her name attached to it? and why doesn't she pay the cost of it then?  I mean what possible connection does she have to single "homeless" women without children over 27 - the only possible category left the women can make a shelter for!? Please.

But what do you mean we already have enough women's shelters?..It can't be! The Mayor of Newmarket ran as part of his platform.....that we had none!

As the social audit report noted we have a Y.R. Women's Centre already, single mom programs, young girls programs, mom-preuneurial programs, abused women's shelters in Richmond Hill, Markham, Vaughn, Aurora, and Georgina, shelters for families including single  moms and married moms, single women up to age 26, religion run single women / shelter program (Aurora), and as well both Inn from The Cold and Out from the Cold include beds for all women - and then many of these women move to the top of the affordable housing list which the men are not afforded any comparable opportunity. In fact men have none of the aforementioned programs in York Region and therefore denied opportunities to access many waiting lists of opportunities. Of course there are no Abused Shelters for Men to escape the dangers of the streets to either. This is what can happen to men like that.

If it were any other group they'd be calling it discrimination.

With the rising cost of food and transportation in Y.R. - local transit costs $3.75 vs T.T.C. $3.00 - and the rising trend of "temp" or non-full time jobs, more and more aging men are getting caught in the trap. An aging out of work labourer for example would have a hard time competing for a job at the best of times against an able bodied younger person. As these men age and others strive to get a foothold in life, we cannot afford all our limited Y.R. social services resources to be spent in one area - and clearly with only 26 full time beds for men in York Region who make up 90% of our homeless here, something's out of wack.

Do we want that here? I hope not. Thank goodness I fielded that call from that senior tenant otherwise he'd of gone like a sheep to the street and become a statistic, not knowing his rights, and without likely a shelter bed since Y.R. has so few for guys like him, especially this time of year with but one shelter.  

But what about the others?

I'm certainly not saying we should ignore our women and children but clearly we're not. We don't mind our men going to war and dying in disproportionate numbers for this country, we can at least give them some support. Stop ignoring the reality York Region, and pandering to the whims of some connected vocal committees with influential backers, and start building what's actually needed

affordable, single unit housing.