Saturday, August 22, 2009

And furrrther more

August 22, 2009
There were 2 other comments on the article Police Harassment of the Homeless, which I feel the need to address. Although I am quite sure the partys who wrote them will not be reading Angels of the Road any time soon.
First to the woman who quip that "you should not let them out looking dirty and dishevelled". The D.I. has 25-30 showers (assuming all are working) and services 1200 clients in any given day. We have 18 washer/dryer combos (assuming all are working) accessible from 8am - 6pm. The working guys, are at the labour office at til 6pm, often 6 days a week. They are lucky to get a washer 1 day per week so...the same clothes must be worn to work at least 4-5 times. Come home at night shower and crawl back into yesterday's clothes. Unlike your house, in a shelter the lucky ones have a locker (like the one you had in high school) for everything they own. So any more then 2 changes of work clothes is excessive. As for the implication that we, I assume she means D.I. staff, should make our street people clean up....In intox on a good night we have 1 staff per 20 takes 2 staff to shower a drunk... it is all they can do to shower and change the ones who urinate or defecate or bleed on themselves. If this lady has any practical suggestions on how to accomplish what she is suggesting I'm sure the DI would appreciate an email. Or perhaps she would like to open her home and shower to a few of the clients, maybe just 10 or 20 a day.

The second comment I wish to address was that the D.I. is a private company and we don't want to see the homeless problem solved because we'd be out of jobs. Best case scenario; we can hope through housing initiatives to eliminate 65 - 70% of the homeless. That would leave 400 patrons of the D.I. and about 1,000 homeless for Calgary (by the last homeless census). Quite enough to keep the staff and facility busy, without the overcrowding that goes on now. The staff to client ratio would be reduced to a point where real intervention could be provided to the street people who remain with us. As for the D.I. being a private company he is right, and shame on the Alberta government that caring for our citizens is left to private agencies. The D.I. is a registered NOT FOR PROFIT corporation. Our staff gets paid competitively for the industry but like all social work ... you better be in it for the love. Our executive probably and I'm only speculating gets double what the care workers earn BUT they are making probably only 25% of what they could make working for corporate Calgary or in the Oil & Gas Industry.
I am shocked by the level of ignorance (lack of information or knowledge) in some of the comments I read. Also for all the verbally flailing, no one actually offered viable alternatives to the system as it stands. It is my suggestion that all these people reserve opinion for subjects they have some understanding of. And please feel welcome to volunteer at any of the shelters to further your understanding of the situation then maybe you can become part of the solution. Angels of the Road is all about seeking knowledge to find solutions to homelessness in Canada. thanks for listening.

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