Friday, June 4, 2010

put down the pens & pick up the hammers

It has been a really good visit home here in Calgary, but I will be leaving on Sunday to continue my cross-Canada journey of homelessness. I don’t expect to be back in Alberta for a year, which made last night’s visit with my girlfriends especially special ;-) I have had a chance to spend time with my kids and my friends making a point of seeking out some people I have a little trouble catching up with on most short visits home.
I was able to get together with some industry (shelter workers) friends and give them what amounts to an in-term report of my findings. I have learned so much in just a year it is hard to imagine there is anything new out there. Since I have found an answer to the prevailing question which sent me on this journey, it seems harder to leave again. But I have to finish what I have started if only for the sake of credibility…. Homelessness is a national issue and if I haven’t witnessed firsthand the shelter system in every province how can a come back to you and say, “This is the state of homelessness in Canada.”
In my article Wednesday Teen Mom deserves an award. I told you about a young woman in Toronto who is fronting a Charter Challenge demanding the federal government create an affordable housing initiative. (By the way thx for reading, pay is a penny a read and all goes to Angels of the Road)
My fear is, we will see tens (possibly hundreds) of millions of dollars wasted on “studying the issue”, money which should be going into building homes. There is no need for further study, we know from the failures and success of the past what is needed to create a working strategy for affordable housing. We can also borrow from the successes of other cities and countries. Australia has made some serious gains and Philadelphia has reduced their homeless population by 70%.... Look at these models find out what is working use that and disregard the rest.
At the National Homelessness Conference of 2009 in Calgary, several of the luminaries made a call for action.

I hope the Canadian public makes that our battle cry.

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