Stroll and Roll to Freedom...Roll up the Rates to Win July 7 2015

Wonderland for some..nightmare for others
As winter begins its blanket of fear upon the downtrodden, some are hurt more than others but everyone feels it. Those prone toward suffering depression are especially hard hit this time of year and those in wheelchairs, particularly those with muscular diseases as they are much harder hit. Winter for some is brutal but for others its a nightmare.

Shopping excursions for some become a monthly affair, not wanting to have to venture out more than is necessary, and socializing means mostly online and any workers that come to your door, some not into that part of the job, leaving you feeling frustrated, downtrodden and often lonely. On top of that, you've had to decide between keeping internet or eating as your food portion has long been whittled away by inflation.

Free Outdoor art for summer entertainment..Fun wow!
There was a time in your life when it wasn't like this. You walked. Ran. Worked. Socialized. But now you are controlled by others at the mercy of a system that seems brutal at times within its own best intentions.

Surely a better deal can be worked out with the Ontario Government. One that allows such a person enough living income to afford new shoes once in awhile, taste a home-made roast on occasion, and perhaps even - egads! A night out! 

Follow Dan in his
Stroll & Roll to Freedom

Men in York Region Dying Homeless

In 2014, it was reported a man had been found dead at the Go parking lot in Newmarket, Ontario. What wasn't reported, was that he had no money, no place to go, and that he had been seen there that night for hours out in the cold by the cabbies that sit at the Go station and by patrolling police officers. Ultimately, he still died... He might have been able to prolong his life if he didn't fear prosecution by jumping on a bus as is often  done by those men who are turned out into the cold when no beds are available at the shelters or he has no means to get to one. 
In 2013, I attended the funeral of yet another Newmarket man whose life consisted of a revolving shelter door. He was only 56. Men like him, who for whatever reason are not able to attain a stable roof over their heads and all the accolades that go along with that - like a healthy lifestyle and diet - usually live shorter lives. These men stay in the shelters for the maximum allotted time of 6 weeks and then couch surf  or live on the streets until such time as they can return again. Whilst staying in the shelters, they are of course expelled during the day first thing in the morning and not allowed back in until the evening. This type of lifestyle takes its toll, especially as one gets older. Statistics prove those living under these conditions live considerably shorter lives. Our current safety net system supports this
This man lived in York Region forests with his winter!

I attended a housing consultation workshop in York Region ( hosted by the Region), and although a number of organizations were there  claimed to want to make a difference, I couldn't help but notice how many exist because of marginalized people, and wondered if they all had their motives in the right places?

At the funeral, the presiding Chaplain asked if anyone would like to say anything and a number of people from a local shelter got up and spoke nicely of him. But he didn't go to those places because he wanted to - he hated shelters and community meals - he went because he had to, as he had no choice, because we leave guys like him - guys unable to quite do everything it takes to survive on their own - especially with the minimal income they're expected to try and pull their bootstraps up on, against the backdrop of average rental costs here, to fend for themselves. No " York Region's best kept Secret" Men's Centres here. Subsequently, men like him have to attend these often dangerous shelters, but, make no mistake, they'd rather not.

When I spoke of this man who died far too young, from the pulpit, it was in genuine glowing memory of how he'd look forward to volunteering for our road hockey tourney every year as it was held right near his turf - Main St - where he could be found most any day perched in a doorway watching "his" street and where we literally played the tourney one year - right on Main St. Afterwards, the Salvation Army Chaplain noted aloud how it was nice to hear how these organizations allowed him to volunteer with them, but the reality is he only volunteered for our event. That was the one he chose. In fact most other organizations wouldn't allow him to volunteer as he didn't "qualify", but they sure don't mind asking for testimonials from to solicit sympathy funds for their "causes".
      Video - All these organizations, yet still men die homeless here with no plan to change

Some of the "do-gooders" attending, most of whose organizations don't seem to respond to requests to participate in the annual Oct 17  International Day for the Eradication of Poverty event,  which is a day sanctioned by the U.N. as THE day to speak out against poverty, should be ashamed to call themselves part of the solution.

Part of the solution, is allowing people to have the tools and where-with-all to survive without charitable supports where possible, and with real dignity, and speaking up for their right to do so. The do-gooders want to do good? Come out Oct 17 to Riverwalk Commons and speak up about the lack of affordable housing for these men, programs lack, and income supports, but they're all too busy blindly hosting fundraisers for shelters and giving to food banks to notice men are really dying out there. Slowly and quickly both.

Charity / Nonprofit organizations are mandated to devote 10% of their budgets to social justice advocacy so we would expect to see them all on the only day designed specifically for that reason - Oct 17

Golden Gloves boxer John Fletcher died living here behind a Tim Hortons
I wrote about another long-time street person dying in 2012 here - a former golden glove boxer no less - and not one word written in the media. The year before, an elderly homeless man died of exposure in an abandoned trailer off Davis Drive, this relayed to me by a homeless man who had been drinking with him that night. Again, not one word written.

I certainly have nothing against EMERGENCY shelters when needed, but, sorry, I don't hear about our women dying on our streets, yet you wouldn't know it for all the kerfuffle about the "need' for another women's shelter. Shelters are not homes, and Y.R., with the among lowest rentals / owned housing ratios in the country, needs more permanent housing. We have 7 existing shelters already and of the 7, 6 already accept women in various categories. When the family shelter opened, the other women's shelter use  numbers actually dropped, yet we are still building women another one for $10 Million dollars just in build costs.

But Where will they go afterward?

Where will these women, who will have to come here from across Ontario to fill it, go afterwards?

I've said it before and I'll say it again - and all the stats and reports back me - what York Region needs is more affordable housing - particularly for singles - and especially for its homeless men.