That Feeling

You ever get that feeling when you’re walking past a person experiencing homelessness to make sure that you’re at a safe distance from them because of course, HOMELESS PEOPLE ARE VIOLENT! Wrong… It has actually been proven that those experiencing homelessness have more hate crimes towards them. Hate crimes are considered a criminal offence which is hate targeted towards a specific group of individuals. These groups may revolve around race, colour, sex, mental disability, and nationality (Dauvergne et al, 2006).

There have been reports of those experiencing homelessness being beaten, burnt, and overall mocked for doing their daily activities (Tutton, 2015). A good percentage of those experiencing homelessness are part of the marginalized community, specifically, in Canada, they are part of the Indigenous community.

Just the other day a security guard was suspended when a video went viral of him throwing his shoes at a man experiencing homelessness in Toronto, ON (Ross, 2017). I find it amazing that the hate crimes towards those experiencing homelessness are going viral due to the use of social media, but I also find it quite saddening that they are happening anyways. Currently, the issue is under investigation but from viewing the video there is not just reason for the security guards actions. In addition, I also find it alarming that no one decided to intervene and stop the altercation. We have become so immune to seeing this on the street that the homeless are basically invisible to us

Homeless shoe throwing
An image caught from the video sent in of a GardaWorld security guard throwing a shoe at a man experiencing homeless (Ross, 2017). 

These type of hate crimes happen towards those experiencing homelessness daily and do not go reported. It is our job as a group to make sure that people are educated about certain communities, and that these hate crimes do not occur. Public awareness is key and this video helps to show that.

To see the entire video: Security guard suspended after video shows him throwing shoes at a homeless man

Sources:

Dauvergne, M., Scrim, K., & Brennan, S. (2008). Hate crime in Canada, 2006. Ottawa: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics.

Ross, G. (2017). Security guard suspended after video shows him throwing shoes at a homeless man. CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/homeless-man-security-guard-shoes-1.4131880

Tutton, M. (2015). From burnings to beatings, homeless people face violence on the streets. CTV News. Retrieved from http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/from-burnings-to-beatings-homeless-people-face-violence-on-the-streets-1.2345340

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Ryerson RYEPride: Spread Queer Youth Love

RyePride is a Queer & Trans student group at Ryerson University that challenges homophobia & transphobia, while also hosting great events & campaigns. Today was their annual RYEPride flag raising at the Quad located at Ryerson. This being the month of pride many organizations and groups are setting out to promote gender equality within the Canadian society.

Images from the RYEPride flag raising in the Ryerson Kerr Hall Quad on June 1st, 2017 (D’Addese, 2017)

Many youth within Canada end up homeless because they are a part of the queer community. A household is a place that provides safety and shelter in order to protect you from the work, however for some youth who come out as LGBTQQIP2SAA they are in households that question this. 25 – 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ, and there are many reasons which cause them to leave their households such as family conflict and abuse (Abramovich, 2013). Gender is a topic that has become highly questionable over the last 50 years, considering it to have no fluidity. What someone chooses to identify as is all based on their own thinking. There are many youth who are unable to be who they truly are due to the pressures of society. In order to combat queer youth experiencing homelessness then there need to be services that create safe spaces in shelters, households, and overall in the general public.

 

Many youth that are experiencing homelessness have lost many if not most of the social ties with their family, friends, communities, and school (Daniel & Cukler, 2015). Therefore this leaves them having to form “street families” in order to still have the feeling of those connections. The flag that stays soaring high in the Ryerson University Quad is a reminder to youth who are facing hate towards them for being who they are is powerful. It helps to promote a safe community and shows that there are people who support and accept them apart from who they want to be.

For more information about Ryerson’s Positive Space events see:

http://www.ryerson.ca/equity/events-workshops/positive-space-events/pride-at-ryerson/

Sources:

Abramovich, A. I. (2013). No Fixed Address: Young, Queer, and Restless. In Youth Homelessness in Canada: Implications for Policy and Practice. Retrieved from http://homelesshub.ca/youthhomelessness

D’Addese, A. (2017). RYEPride Flag Raising [Photograph]. RyePride June 1 Flag Raising, Toronto.

Daniel, L., & Cukler, W. (2015). The 360 project : addressing racism in Toronto. Toronto, ON: Diversity Institute, Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University.

 

What if I became HOMELESS?

My friend and I were boarding the train today and we came across a familiar woman that we see on the Yonge-Bloor line who typically stands by the escalators panhandling. I am downtown so often that I know her daily routine as to where she will be standing and what station she will be at. My friend started to talk about how old she was and how it was unacceptable for such an older woman (probably old enough to be my grandmother) to be begging for money, and how there are so many resources to her disposal. I started to inform my friend about how these resources are not always accessible or the right type. Also, I told her that there are actually SO MANY homeless Torontonians; it’s just that we don’t seem to acknowledge them. We have become normalized to seeing someone on the street and not considering them as homeless. So then I began to wonder… What if I became homeless? If I hadn’t taken a course all about homelessness and gained all of this extra knowledge would I have known what to do, would I know where to go, would I know how to survive? Thankfully, I have such a great support system that I truly believe my greatest extremity of homelessness would be couch-surfing. And, if I did not have my support system I begin to wonder would I rather want to try and get into emergency shelters or live on the streets?  What if I went bankrupt and had no job, would I panhandle? Would I steal? Would I become a sex worker? What would I do? And these are all questions that the majority of housed people would not think about until they lose their housing. So when you look at it, when a person experiencing homelessness is put into this situation they never really thought about it, so they have to find these resources and services all while trying to stay alive. It is not something you can really prepare for but truly has to have the strength in order to deal with.

Conor’s Story: Talks with Street Youth

Reimagining the Response to Youth Homelessness: Conor’s Story (Homeless Hub, 2014)

I came across the Homeless Hub website once before but this time I decided to listen to podcasts they created. The Homeless Hub does episodes which focus on different aspects of homelessness such as youth homelessness, domestic violence issues, and Indigenous individuals. The Homeless Hub was created in order to provide a site where all the collected information about homelessness in Canada was together (Homeless Hub, 2014).

There’s a lot of homelessness that we do not see because not all homelessness includes being on the street. The different types of homelessness include being unsheltered, emergency sheltered, provisionally accommodated, and at risk homelessness (Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, 2012). The podcast I listened to was a story from a youth named Conor who experienced homelessness and was able to come out of it. He left his home around his 16th birthday and was later able to get into a transitional housing program (Homeless Hub, 2014). He has experienced all forms of homeless from being in shelters, group homes, the streets, and couch surfing. Conor touched upon a lot of issues that homeless youth face such as social assistance being poorly designed, and how hard it is to exit the street life since youth have not developed the skills to live on their own.

There is a lot of stigma associated with homeless youth because people automatically think that they chose to be there because they did not want to live with their parents. However, that is not always the case. They could be coming from an abusive household or have parents who are substance abusers, and therefore live in a toxic environment and NEED to leave. Conor is now enrolled at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario. Take a look at his story and hear from someone who experienced homelessness as a youth before.

Sources:

Homeless Hub. (2014). Homeless Hub Podcast [Ep 2]: Reimagining the Response to Youth Homelessness. Retrieved from http://homelesshub.ca/resource/homeless-hub-podcast-ep-2-reimagining-response-youth-homelessness

Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (2012) Canadian Definition of Homelessness. Homeless Hub. Retrieved from http://www.homelesshub.ca/homelessdefinition/

Will You Be Gentrifyed Next?

My friend told me the other day that her family has to find new housing by the end of the year because her neighbourhood is being re-constructed. In other words, gentrification is happening. She lives in Lawrence Heights also known as the “Jungle”, which is Toronto’s largest public housing community. The plan is to turn the area into new subsidized housing and market-priced units; a revitalization project they call it (Novakovic, 2016). Areas such as these including Reagent Park, Alexandra Park, and Leslie Nymark have been undergoing new projects in order to “change the setting”. She is not really happy about it because she’s been living there her whole life and has been told to basically pack up her stuff and find housing somewhere else. However, as we all know finding housing in the City of Toronto at an affordable rate is hard. So I was wondering as to where she and her family would go.

jungle.png
At the yellow star is where my friend lives, and her housing unit is in phase one of the revitalization project. Image provided by TCHC (Novakovic, 2016).

This whole revitalization project can also be looked at as gentrification. Gentrification has been considered an urban phenomenon associated with the renovation of old residential areas (Walks and Maaranen, 2008). Walks and Maaraneen (2008) did a study on the neighbourhood gentrification occurring in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver and what they found is what gentrification does is remove the low-income households and turn it into a working-class community. There are positive outcomes of gentrification such as better access to services such as schools and parks, and there is an improvement in building structure. However, there are also many negative factors such as the lower-income population not being able to pay for these services. Also, those who are forced out of the area have to find housing in remote areas of Toronto. People who live in these low-income households are typically a part of the marginalized community and have to live on the outskirts of Toronto in apartments, relying solely on public transit in order to make ends meet.

It looks as if the poor are being hidden among those who are rich. You see these nice condos downtown for instance, and then have a bunch of people experiencing homelessness sleeping outside of them. They literally have nowhere else to go, and most of these condos stay empty. It is smart for Toronto to build more sustainable housing by replacing old areas, but it also looks as if they are freeing up area in order to create market-priced housing. It does not seem as if the focus is to create affordable housing for people who require them. I feel bad for my friend who has to find a new relocation unit since its obviously going to impact her families’ social and mental health. It is not easy to just relocate to an area that you have been all your life especially if your support networks are located in that area (August, 2014). I for one live in a TCHC community and understand the relationships people develop which they rely on such as school, work, daycare, etc. Possibly the whole gentrification of Toronto is leading to the increase in those experiencing homelessness. Who knows, maybe my neighbourhood will be gentrifyed next…

Sources:

August, M. (2014). How ‘revitalization’ is leading to displacement in Regent Park. The Toronto Star. Retrieved from https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2014/05/05/how_revitalization_is_leading_to_displacement_in_regent_park.html

Novakovic, S. (2016). Lawrence Heights Demolition Kicks Off Largest Redevelopment Project in TCHC History. Retrieved from http://urbantoronto.ca/news/2015/10/lawrence-heights-demolition-kicks-largest-redevelopment-project-tchc-history

Walks, R. A., & Maaranen, R. (2008). Neighbourhood Gentrification and upgrading in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Centre for Urban and Community Study,43, 1-9. doi:13978077271467

Homeless people in Toronto are dying at a rate of more than two per week on average

The Church of Holy Trinity may have to build a bigger memorial in order to record the deaths of those experiencing homelessness. Last week during our street walk we came across the Toronto Homeless Memorial which was started by the Church of Holy Trinity. Sadly, those experiencing homelessness in Toronto are dying at a rate of more than two per week (Ormbsy & Wallace, 2017). I find that this is ridiculous considering how wealthy a city like Toronto is, and to have people living and dying on the street is unacceptable; policy makers need to look into their actions and really focus on ending the homelessness issue. These are people who have family members and are loved but are unable to receive the help they need to, and action must be taken. 

Flowers rest on the Toronto Homeless Memorial, an unofficial record of homeless people in the GTA who have died since the 1980s. The city's homeless death rate for 2017, if it continues at two per week through December, would top 100 — the most ever recorded in Toronto.The Church of Holy Trinity’s Toronto Homeless Memorial has set a staggering record of death rates for the year of 2017. Let alone there has been 27 homeless deaths in three months  (Wallace, 2017).

The city’s funding needs to be properly allocated to accessible resources such as harm reduction sites, shelters, and warming centers (Ormbsy & Wallace, 2017). These resources contribute largely to the reduction in deaths of those experiencing homelessness. Let alone, another major factor is there is a decrease of affordable housing within the city. With the increase in housing prices there is an increase in homeless deaths, and this negative association should not be seen. In 2015 the number of household on waiting lists was 171 360, and typically these households have to wait on an average of three to five years to receive housing (ONPHA, 2016). Therefore, if households have to wait this long in order to receive affordable housing then they are sometimes left to the cold streets. The streets are rough, and I am not surprised that the amount of homeless deaths have increased, what else was expected when they are to do when obtaining housing is impossible. It also comes alarming during the winter and summer months since the city experiences many wind-chilling and heat-wrenching days. Opening areas for those experiencing homelessness to stay warm or cool is a problem itself for the city, so to provide someone an area to rest there head would be a greater problem. I don’t see solutions rising anytime soon to slowing the rate of homeless deaths until we begin to put the money where it is needed. Also, if with people not viewing those experiencing homelessness as actual people, then the list will increase because the homeless will feel as if no one would care if they died anyways. 

Sources:

ONPHA. (2016). ONPHA’s final report on waiting lists statistics for Ontario (Rep.). Retrieved http://qc.onpha.on.ca/flipbooks/WaitingListReport/files/assets/common/downloads/publication.pdf

Ormbsy, M., & Wallace, K. (2017). 27 homeless deaths in Toronto in just three months. The Toronto Star. Retrieved from https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/05/25/27-homeless-deaths-in-toronto-in-just-three-months.html

Wallace, K. (2017). Toronto Homeless Memorial [Photograph]. Toronto Star File Photo, Toronto.

What’s this all about?

In order to combat homelessness and help to end the dilemma, it requires public awareness, and not just educating people on homelessness but rather how the effects of society impact those experiencing homelessness. In addition, how the views society have formed has created issues with sheltering systems and the overall treatment of those experiencing homelessness.

Within Canada in the 1990s, the federal government stopped

homeless stats.png
The State of Homelessness in Canada statistics (Gaetz et al, 2014)

funding for affordable housing which resulted in a great increase in Canada’s homelessness crisis (Gaetz et al, 2014). In addition, factors such an inadequate minimum wage, lack of social assistance, the decrease of affordable housing, and the discrimination of certain marginalized groups have been key contributions. We know the problem’s which contribute towards homelessness but have yet to find a solution.

Municipalities are now responsible for funding affordable housing, which is the key solution towards ending homelessness. However, municipalities must vote and decide as to where the city or town funding will go. A lot of it is based on what the people want in the city. Canadian’s see homelessness now as something which is ordinary, and that it will eventually be solved on its own. Heart for the Homeless sets out to bring about more public awareness about the homelessness crisis in Canada.

The reporting system is being used more frequently and generating a lot of public awareness, however, Heart for the Homeless has it all. In order to invoke social change and see some differences within the government, it requires educating the society about homelessness first. In addition, reducing the stereotypes and stigmas associated with those experiencing homelessness such as marginalized communities, substance abusers, and LGBTQQIP2SAA.

Sources:

Gaetz, S., Gulliver, T., & Richter, T. (2014). The State of Homelessness in Canada: 2014. Toronto: The Homeless Hub Press.