Homelessness Strategy misses mark in York Region

Seems 'tis the season for all things poverty lately and the most recent thing being a report released by York University, which was researched by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness and the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness. Like anything report (follow the money) related it has truth mixed with supposition and ideology and conclusion finding solutions based on those, so you get what you get which is a mixed bag.

On one hand, it points out the obvious, on the other, it's solutions are slanted towards creating a two tiered rental market, or even three or four, with the end result being landlords creating slums and exclusive areas. And it's actual definition of 'affordable" housing I also have issue with, although they do use the term " at risk of " a fair number of times to confuse one would suppose, leading me to believe they are really branding this point home for some reason. To me, second suite apartments are not affordable either, whereas to them, they are.

Formerly Homeless. With supports, now a Poet
Some bullet points I took from the report, to highlight some previous rants of mine that I'm often maligned for locally by those on the peripherals, include the fact that about 75% of all those using shelters are single men age 26 and over. I ask, of the 7 existing full time shelters in York Region that we have, how many full time beds do we house these homeless men in - bearing in mind a population of 1.1 million people? Guess?.....try one shelter with 26 beds. Instead, 75% of our shelters house women - so the national numbers show we've obviously missed the mark in York Region. I've chirped it for years, but it's certainly nice to get some more supportive stats to back me. Meanwhile Y.R. boasts the least amount of rental housing  / owned houses ratios in the country and rates among the lowest percentile of occupancy availability rates in all of Canada already. Housing is but one element for what ails anyway, especially if they plan to roll out everything based on current broken models, and, in the case of rent subsidies, an experimental one.

YR Councilor given another chance
For example Dan Philion has subsidized housing and is confined to a wheelchair with limited mobility. In winter he suffers more-so and is naturally less mobile outside his home, but even if he wishes to, it is always a stress. Is the snow shoveled? Can I afford it? Do I have the energy today - but they'll charge me for cancelling a fare? Each trip out is calculated in worth vs value. Each month he begins it knowing he has only $100 plus dollars for after bills disposable income, regardless if he managed to earn more money somehow, as they simply adjust his check amount - first should he make "too much", then also adjust his apartment rental amount, either way he can't get ahead, and having trouble writing makes it more unlikely for him to try and get through it all anyway. None of their
solutions eliminate or address this reality, and it is a loophole that needs correcting, adjustments if you will, and believe it is within the resolve and power of the current Ontario government and York Region to make such adjustments, and should do so.

Out of desperation, Dan, who is also Vice-Chair of the Poverty Action for Change Coalition of York Region, the group responsible for bringing York Region its first ever social audit in 2011, "Behind The Masks", has spearheaded an idea for a type of march, to be held in the spring of 2015, to draw attention to the plight of those already housed but living lives of misery. Dan hopes others afflicted by similar circumstances propelled by poverty, and individuals or groups who support their right to a better existence, will come out.

Oct 17 event drew awareness
Says Dan, when informed of the recent 1% raise for those on O.D.S.P., announced by the Ontario government to be added on his check,

" 1%, are they serious? What are we supposed to do with that? That's 3 bus rides."

And with that being the catalyst, the idea for an event that would raise awareness to his / this issue began, the end result being  

Stroll and Roll for freedom.

Dan is tired of living like he's just existing, and says he didn't ask to live in a wheelchair and to have limited abilities and adds why shouldn't he have more money? Good question Dan, especially from many of the same group who voted themselves 30% raises not so long ago... And he's not shy, asking for a 50%  increase in his monthly disability support check, up from the current ceiling of about $1200 per individual. The hope action event will start at one destination - tentatively the York Region headquarters on Yonge St - and would peacefully roll and stroll down Yonge St, ending at the M.P.P.'s office in Aurora where the Liberal M.P.P. Chris Ballard would greet us and agree to take something to parliament on behalf. Something tangible. TBD& A'd.

Dan Philon wants a life!
Dan feels he deserves to live each day, not worrying about if he'll have enough to last the month and feeling a real pinch from mid month on. We believe he also has a right. A penny pincher as is, he doesn't smoke and has an occasional beer, mostly at home if he does unable to afford much more than cheap karaoke night out once in awhile should he choose to, and even then, his home table-menu then suffers later on in the month.

As we "speak", we're having logo design's looked at so Watch for Stroll and Roll for freedom online and on FaceBook!

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