Anti-Empire

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Unfortunately homelessness is a multifaceted problem, there are people like Croghan refered to (and Croghan himself from his comment) who are out to support themselves (and possibly enable themselves to get off the street), and helping them is easy, they want to do what they can to get out. Organisations like the Drop-In Centre (seriously support them, they're located where they can make a difference, and one of the least arrogant charities I've dealt with) & the associated programs (or even "Cash Corner") are great at giving them a leg up and helping them get their lives together.

The problem is the people who either choose to make a living that way, or (as in the case of a friend of the family) fall into that because of mental illness. Straight money (or a place to sleep, a meal, etc.) is not going to get them off the streets (especially when given straight to them), they either want to be there, or now lack the ability to tear themselves out of the downward slide. Turning around the one person took many (think 20+) people's involvement, a lot of money/councilling, some strained relationships, and even so, while he's off the street, the rest of his life is going to be spent in a care facility. Once again, the Drop-in centre does provide a service to these people, but the money/time required is usually just too far out of reach of their budgets.

I used to work next door to the Mustard Seed, and 99% of the people using the facility were nice people needing help, it was the people that hung around the back of the Seed that caused all the trouble (they were kicked out for violence or alcohol/drug use). These are the people that tended to cause problems with aggressive pan-handling, petty theft, and generally had no interest in turning their lives around.

Just to follow up on Croghan's comment, I have the utmost respect for people that pull themselves off the streets, or even find novel ways (such as his friend) to support themselves, as far as I'm concerned, bottle pickers are providing a valuable service, reducing demand on landfills, encouraging recycling, and making money (nope, not going to say a living, not around here), kind of a shame there isn't a bounty on more commonly disposed goods.

Interestingly though, if you look at poverty elsewhere in the world, it's more likely that homeless people are willing if not eager to help/entertain you in order to earn your money (one of the best guides/translators I used in Amsterdam was a homeless guy who approached me asking if I needed help finding something), rather than expecting a handout (which is also good to see from a self-esteem point of view).

Finally, for most of the complaints from people living downtown, I find the 18 year old bar stars are much more of an annoyance (noise, pissing/puking everywhere, breaking things) than the homeless, maybe we can ban them?

Oh, and for the record, in Calgary, I give to agencies not individual pan-handlers.

From my perspective, capitalism creates homelessness not lack of self-esteem or willingness to work.

On the issue of mental illness, and disabilty more broadly, many people are not a fit with a system that organizes work in 8-5 days or other shifts. In Europe, they have developed programs called "social firms" for people with mental illness where people might share jobs so that talents can be used when people are well and people do not lose their jobs when they are ill.

If our governments organize the narrow laws of markets and not the needs of people, surely we must blame them for the fallout.

Great posts. Who's the Calgary Alterman who advocated the "special homeless park"?

I live downtown and haved lived downtown in Toronto, Vancouver and Budapest.

Dear Jonothan (did you misspell your own name?): move to Tuscany. Bubye.

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