Re: Hiring A Homeless Coordinator Is A Bad Idea –
I have to disagree with some of this article. Not all persons who are homeless in abbotsford have “their own building materials to build some shelter against the cold and the rain.” This article refers to a select, highly visible group of self-identified homeless persons, some of whom when I recently asked them directly whether they’d move into the proposed Dignity Village were it to be built, weren’t certain they would. Some of these same people scoffed at the idea of a low-barrier building, because of the rules they’d have to abide by. One highly visible homeless man said “Elsie. You know what? I think it’s better to be homeless, as I can do exactly what I want.” (He did also articulate the misery of his living conditions, and I had the thought, then of Viktor Frankl’s comment re the attitude of holocaust survivors, which was the focus, moment by moment, on the sole remaining freedom: the freedom of choice.) The reality is this: not all persons who are homeless want to go into shelters in which they are not in complete control. It’s their sole remaining “possession”. Being homeless, and surviving day to day is a miserable condition from the perspective of those of us who live in homes, and it is almost impossible to imagine that if shelter is offered to someone out in subzero weather, without easy access to washrooms, hungry, and physically compromised by either drug or alcohol addiction, as well as mentally ill — medicated or not — the offer of shelter is declined. And yet, so ti goes. This happens in Abbotsford, and this happens in Vancouver. And this happens in Calgary, and even Steinbach, Manitoba. We who wish to “help”, who take a genuine interest in persons who live without permanent addresses, are like those who go into foreign countries and tell citizens there how to live (by our ethno-centric standards, and measures of “success”). I, too, though living in vancouver now, have heard “word on the street” of at least four people who are considering applying for the new position of homeless coordinator. QUESTION: has it been co-oberated that the position will pay $100,000.00? If, indeed, the applicants are front-line homeless workers, then is it not logical that the position be filled by one who already has regular contact with persons of homeless or at-risk-for homelessness status? Relationship is essential in affecting an environment in which a person chooses to make life-style changes. Articles such as this which continue to tout one way, and only one way, the Barry Schantz way, do nothing to bring together the many agencies and individuals who are doing something already. A homeless coordinator may well bring together the various agencies so that there are less redundant “services”. And what can be so bad about that? For example, the waste going on with regard to clothing and blankets. Yes, waste. The kind none of us in “helper” positions would practice, and, in fact, critique in one another. Persons who are homeless could use a place to do their laundry. Or, if they’re incapable of doing their own, having it done for them so that there isn’t a wake of dirty blankets, footwear and clothing wherever they are. Perhaps there is an agency that would take on this piece of the story. Perhaps a homeless coordinator would bring that into effect. How wonderful would that be!? And it would also cut down on the garbage at the tent villages. THat’s just one example of redundant “help” going on in abbotsford. Well-intentioned, but adding to the waste which is then used to disparage the homeless. Someone needs to tackle the practical aspect of coordinating the various services, because the reality is that some of the service providers are at odds with one another’s tactics, and egos get in the way of a unified focus on what each is attempting to do: help the homeless. What is required is various approaches, but with a unified goal: to do everything possible to create the environment in which the very people who we wish to help find the will and the way to live healthier lives. And know that if they relapse, they can try again, accepted — either way — because they are human beings, like you and me. We MUST make room in our society for differences in lifestyle. The homeless and the poor we will ALWAYS have among us. There will never be an end to this “problem” just as there will never be an end to war, illnesses, diverse personalities, lifestyle clashes in abbotsford, and all over the world. This is the human condition. It would be wonderful if Abbotsford Today would publish articles that celebrate what is being done — quietly, openly, visibly and invisibly by so many individuals and agencies — that others might join in, not so much because it might “fix the homeless problem” but because of how it might expand them as human beings, and as agencies. While i understand that such articles are motivated by genuine care for the homeless persons of abbotsford who, yes, have been horribly mistreated by some in positions of power, the ongoing critique does nothing to nurture those already engaged, nor inspire those who might yet become involved. Abbotsford Today has done much to expose the long-standing injustices in Abbotsford, and that was much-needed, and my challenge is this: help foster a more respectful culture by also showing respect for what is. Articulate the potential, the best possible outcome of the city hiring a homeless coordinator. Cite those in an article. Invite readers to submit ideas. Dream a new dream for abbotsford, ’cause that’s where all change begins: with a dream.
From Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/536856343099184/
Re: Hiring A Homeless Coordinator Is A Bad Idea –