Join the #Whyhomeless Movement – Help the Homeless

Visit Part 1 of the series at this short url –

http://bit.ly/19vTNG

Welcome to the continuing series exploring the root causes of homelessness. This is the #whyhomeless movement. A grassroots social action group committed to alleviating the challenges faced by people who are experiencing homelessness. Based in Toronto, but pursuing a worldwide issue,  we think global, but ACT local. I’ve proposed the creation of a task force to re-examine the core issues and we now have a small tight knit team and held the first #whyhomeless meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009 in Toronto hosted by the kind folks at the Ferret & Firkin Pub on Spadina. (The sweet potato fries are worth the visit alone – join us for the next meeting).

good energy

In my last post I said:

We need innovative problem solving techniques to be applied in an environment that fosters freedom of thought and unity of purpose. We need to remember the most important stakeholders in this process – the homeless men, women and children themselves.

The meeting was a lot of brainstorming mixed with a backgrounder on Project417, the non-profit that launched the #whyhomeless movement. Here are some of the ideas that were presented – ( Thanks Darlene, Giulia, Jenn, April, and Rahim).

A home for the homeless –

It’s proposed that we purchase a home in the downtown Toronto area and develop it as a supportive transitional home for up to four members of our community who are experiencing homelessness. Partnerships created with banking, real estate, city programs, churches and exisiting community organizations. This is activism at its most basic – people are homeless. Let’s provide them with a home.

A street-based community newspaper –

There are two (or three) “homeless outreach” newspapers on the streets of Toronto right now. Only one publishes regularly. One has content that could only be described as racist conspiracy theory on steroids. A recent attempt at a new publication (that most of us were involved in) was co-opted by some folks who probably were more interested in a paycheck than in truly involving the homeless. We’re going to take another run at it. It will involve members of the homeless community from the ground up. Publisher, editors, journalists, photography, design, marketing, advertising, online edition, distribution and vendors – ALL will be people who are or who have recently experienced homelessness. It will contain real news that people want to read, it will pay its own way, it will engender a spirit of mentorship and it will provide valuable on-the-job training and work experience.

MeetUp.com volunteer building –

The first MeetUp.com Project417 Sandwich Run to the Homeless last month was a great success. Thanks Giulia and Darlene. Project417 already hosts more than two thousand volunteers a year, handing out meals to the homeless. Tapping into the local community through MeetUp could realistically add another 1,000 volunteers annually, add new routes and areas of the city, and introduce more caring people to the #whyhomeless movement.

A canteen truck for the Sandwich Runs to the homeless

We have in the past made use of volunteer and staff vans to extend the reach of delivering nutritious meals to the homeless out on the streets. It’s proposed that a canteen (camper) van/truck be purchased and operated to increase the effectiveness of street outreach to the homeless. This includes partnering with organizations, like the Salvation Army and Light Patrol – who already operate vehicle outreach. There is a side benefit in that people trained on the canteen will also have skills needed in our Emergency & Disaster Response programs.

The Co-op community housing model –

Co-operative housing has fallen out of favour in recent years for affordable housing projects (very few new Co-op units have been constructed) But it is in fact, the future of affordable housing because it involves residents directly in building healthy communities – new co-op model efforts should encompass local green environmental initiatives, community gardens (buy local), childcare, education, elder care, health care and non-traditional approaches to transitional homes.

The “residence” housing model –

Very simply – why are there only “residences” for college and university students? That type of cooperative living environment can be ideal for any youth leaving home, seeking their first jobs and looking for an affordable place to live and eat.

A Fair Trade Cafe –

Hey, we’re Canadian, eh? We love coffee. We love the homeless. So a coffee house to support the homeless community is a natural,  right?

A Fundraising Party –

Coming soon to a Toronto venue near you! It’s time for the next Project417, and the first #whyhomeless fundraiser. Room for plenty of fun loving people. Some good eats and refreshments. Great band – live music, dancing. Special guests, auctions and more. Announcement coming soon.

Using Social Media to help the Homeless –

We need a Project417.com website makeover and a launch pad for the #whyhomeless Movement and need to recruit industry expertise in new media, social media and web apps. You may already be part of the #whyhomeless Movement. If not go to Twitter and tweet homelessness issues and news with the #whyhomeless tag. Make friends with like minded people who care about the homeless (follow @canayjun). Submit a comment here. Re-post this on your blog, share it on Facebook. Email a link to your friends, post it on Digg or Reddit. Visit Twitter and connect with other friends like @MLFNOW , @_CSM_ , @joeelkerton or @invisiblepeople.

Stay tuned for more updates – comment here if you’re interested in attending our next meeting – Wednesday, Sept. 9th at 8PM.

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UPDATE – Meeting tonite 9/9/9 8pm at BLCF, 1307 Bloor Street West, Toronto – or visit the Community Dinner (all welcome) at 6pm first. Directions here or tweet @canayjun

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What do you think is the root cause of homelessness? Part 5

Visit Part 1 of the series at this short url –

http://tinyurl.com/whyhomeless

In my last post I said:

We need to re-visit the issue of the root causes of homelessness and use our findings to publicly articulate an actionable plan to reduce homelessness. We need to wrest control of the issues from interest groups and some activist organizations which, in my opinion, have co-opted the true needs of our homeless friends. We need to make recommendations that can be life changing and give hope to our entire community.

NA_helps

Naturally, this has garnered a fair level of criticism from some existing homeless service providers.  I ask once again that people who are working so tirelessly to improve the lives of our homeless friends not view the ongoing quest to redefine the root causes of homelessness as an indictment – our goal is to identify major risk factors before people become homeless and to do this we must move out of the realm of considering homelessness primarily as a poverty issue.  This can only strengthen existing homeless services.  In contrast to “housing first” based efforts, as a grassroots program Project417’s #whyhomeless movement will be a people centered community development effort.

We’re not alone in our search to re-define homeless services. Alan Graham, founder and president of Mobile Loaves and Fishes in Austin, Texas recently announced a groundbreaking program to survey the homeless themselves to determine their critical needs.  He posted this startling declaration:

ISSUE:  Despite decades of heart-felt attempts at finding solutions, millions of dollars and countless hours of effort, the homeless services system in the United States is officially broken. There are few, if any, large, transformational, paradigm-shifting programs that are effectively, productively and permanently moving homeless people off of the streets and into meaningful and purposeful solutions. Many services are tiny band-aids on a gaping and gushing wound: one meal for a person who doesn’t have a regular source of nutrition, one counseling service with no continuation of care, one night of shelter in a public, crowded facility. In August 2009 an Austin collaboration will be conducting a landmark survey of the area homeless population. The goal is to better understand the needs of the chronically homeless, in hopes of creating transformational change. The results of this survey will be the foundation for a full day educational and community action symposium in March 2010. [in Austin, Texas]

At Project417 we believe that people have priority over money, structures, systems and other institutions.  At Project417, a program of Ekklesia Inner City Ministries,  our Executive Director,  Rev. Joe Elkerton has a long history of ministering to and advocating for the homeless in Toronto going back over twenty years. He promotes a vision of people centered community development.  From the Project417 mission statement on our website:

Our definition of development is –

“people in community engaging in a spiritual, social, physical, economic and political process of positive transformation towards a sustainable future”.

People centered development focuses on the well being of people and their living system while promoting the worth and dignity of all human beings. It therefore encompasses value change, popular participation, human resource development, gender issues, appropriate technology, children’s issues and sustainability.

People centered development “emphasizes the process of development and its essential focus on personal and institutional capacity”. It also rejects the notion of experts, asserting instead that no one is outside of the development process and that each person has something to contribute as sell as something to learn.

People centered development seeks the active involvement of all stakeholders in every stage of the development process. It affirms the worth and contribution of every community member. It promotes transparency, justice and equity, asserting that the first priority in resource allocation should be the achievement of community objectives related to the satisfaction of the basic needs of all community members”.

In my last post, I invited any and all who are interested in resolving homelessness in our communities to join a “taskforce” to determine the root cause of homelessness with the purpose to prevent, treat and heal homelessness.  More correctly it should not yet be referred to as a taskforce because the root issues are not yet defined, so specific tasks can’t be assigned. We need innovative problem solving techniques to be applied in an environment that fosters freedom of thought and unity of purpose. We, like Mobile Loaves and Fishes , need to remember the most important stakeholders in this process – the homeless men, women and children themselves.

everywhere

You can be a valuable part of this process. Join the #whyhomeless movement. Submit a comment here. Re-post this on your blog, share it on Facebook.  Email a link to your friends, post it on Digg or Reddit. Visit Twitter and connect with me @canayjun or other friends like @MLFNOW , @_CSM_ , @joeelkerton or @invisiblepeople.  Tweet homelessness issues to the world on Twitter and include the tag #whyhomeless so we can track the movement.

Come back and visit the blog here for the next post in this series.

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What do you think is the root cause of homelessness? – Part 4

Visit Part 1 of the series at this short url –

http://tinyurl.com/whyhomeless

A Call to Action:

In Parts 1 to 3 of the series, we have investigated the root cause of homelessness.  I mentioned the need to decide upon a definition of homelessness.  I’d like to postpone that for a short time because there is a window of opportunity right now to impact homelessness services that requires a call to action.  There is an excellent article on defining “homelessness” by Lyne Casavant, of the Political and Social Affairs Division, Government of Canada,  from January 1999 at “Definition of Homelessness”.

I recently proposed the formation of a task force on the root causes of homelessness in an email to some key stakeholders here in Canada, because as I have said –

the issue of affordable housing does not sufficiently capture the underlying “root” cause of homelessness

My message was addressed to the members of the EFC Roundtable on Poverty and Homelessness – advocates in their own right representing several organizations devoted to helping the homeless. I also included Joe Elkerton, our Executive Director at Project417 and several other stakeholders, friends and community members with a heart for the homeless. The text of that message follows –

city of angels

“Some of you I have met and had a chance to discuss the challenges in ministering to the homeless.  I’ve been with Joe Elkerton at Project417 – Ekklesia Inner City Ministries for more than five years – my position there is 100% faith based and I was commissioned to this work with the homeless by my home church,  Mississauga Chinese Baptist Church.  Primarily I work out on the streets of Toronto year round in what we call “sandwich runs” to the homeless with over 2,000 volunteers every year. I’m currently engaged in a process that is exploring the root causes of homelessness – in a series of posts at my blog  (quicklink http://tinyurl.com/whyhomeless )  and I would appreciate your comments and input.

More –  in keeping with the spirit of the Ottawa manifesto, I would suggest that now is the time to –

“…SPEAK on [the homeless’] behalf when their own voices are not heard, and support them in speaking for themselves, to the end that Canadian churches, governments, media and businesses would make the substantial reduction of homelessness, poverty and their root causes a high priority”.

I know that each of you works tirelessly for the homeless both in your respective organizations and as members of the EFC roundtable – don’t consider it an indictment when I say that we have not yet done enough for our homeless friends. Consider it a call to action or a call to arms:

” — Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon… Neh. 4:17

We need to re-visit the issue of the root causes of homelessness and use our findings to publicly articulate an actionable plan to reduce homelessness. We need to wrest control of the issues from interest groups and some activist organizations which, in my opinion, have co-opted the true needs of our homeless friends. We need to make recommendations that can be life changing and give hope to our entire community. We all suffer the effects of homelessness in our society.  One of our friends, Bob Buckley,  has said recently in his blog The Pathway to Hope –

“Our society in it’s desire to help the brokenhearted,  is part of the problem. We provide enough care to maintain a level of survival that I would call the living dead”.

All of us when pressed admit the root causes of homelessness are complex, but complexity is not impossible to fathom. We all know the simple straight-forward answers most people give for homelessness –

# Alcohol and drug abuse, addictions
# Loss of a job, the economy, bankruptcy
# Family problems and break-ups
# Lack of education – not being qualified for well paying job
# Poor judgment, making bad choices and laziness
# Choice – some people just choose to be homeless
# Mental illness
# Physical disability
# Abuse in the home – youth runaways
# Violence against women


To these are most often added
a key element – the lack of affordable housing.  Housing has become the clarion call for many homeless service organizations across Canada and the United States and for some time, I too thought that was the key, (or adequate housing to use the UN definition in which affordability is but one factor).  But we all know that it is still not so simple.  All of the homeless must be missing one thing in common, like lacking the anti-bodies to fight a disease. I often tell my volunteers they are missing just one person who cares. Love is the missing ingredient.  And our Christian community is called by Christ to be the people who love other people.  We have the Author of love as our example. God IS love. We are called by love its very self to love both our neighbours and our enemies.

How then is this “lack of love” manifested in people before they become homeless – because that is what we must address. We are all very skilled at loving the homeless after the fact. It is this realization that suggests that homelessness is not primarily a poverty issue. Here in Canada at least, it is not primarily the poor that are becoming homeless.  Homelessness visits every strata of our society, rich and poor.  The poverty-centric disaster relief and healing services must continue – we can do no less.  But we must take the next steps in the fight against homelessness – just as with heart disease or diabetes – Prevention and search for the cure.

Many of you have already said as much, although in different words. Greg Paul writes on the EFC website –

Although these “reasons” are some of the huge problems to be addressed if my friends are ever to find homes, these aren’t the root cause why they have ended up living on the street. Experiences of significant and repeated physical and/or sexual abuse—which many studies correlate with roughly 85 percent of homeless youth—now that gets a little closer to the bone…

Joe Elkerton has discussed with me the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – PTSD – displayed amongst our most chronically homeless street friends, especially of the First Nations,  and how their inner pain triggers the terrible and self-destructive behaviour we witness daily.

A recent study by Dr Stephen Hwang at St. Mike’s reveals that more than one in three of Toronto’s homeless suffered a traumatic brain injury prior to ending up on the streets .

A recent study I became aware of only days ago, by Heather Larkin of the University of Albany – shows the link between Adverse Childhood Experiences – ACE – and homelessness. From her study –

More than 85 percent of the homeless respondents reported having experienced at least one of 10 categories of adverse childhood experiences (ACE). Many (52.4 percent) had experienced more than four categories of traumatic events when growing up. … There is a high ACE prevalence among the homeless people in this study. Individuals with high ACE scores may be more vulnerable to economic downturns and cultural oppression, a person-environment interaction increasing the likelihood of homelessness. Service responses focused on identifying and addressing childhood traumas hold an opportunity for addressing ACEs before they contribute to homelessness.”

I’d suggest a task force be assembled to re-define from the ground up the root causes of homelessness, refine the church’s response, to separate service responses pre- and post-homeless, to help prevent, treat and heal homelessness in our community. You’re all invited.

We really should meet.

<><
Andy Coats
Project417
andyc@project417.com

:: Forward this to anyone you like and re-print it onyour website or blog

:: connect with me on Twitter @canayjun and join the #whyhomeless movement

Acts 3:1-7
Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer.  And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, “Look at us!” And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene–walk!” And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. NASB

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What do you think is the root cause of homelessness? – Part 3

Homelessness – The Root Causes – Part III

In Part I & Part II,  I have been asking the question – “What do you think is the root cause of homelessness?”  (Join the movement – tweet your answers on Twitter with the tag #whyhomeless).  I pointed out that –

The right to housing is a basic human right defined by the United Nations, ratified and signed by Canada and most other Western nations. And yet,  it is the lack of affordable housing which most suspect to be the leading contributor to homelessness in every town and city in North America where it exists.

Photo - Board of Regents - Dan Bergeron / fauxreel - in Torontoist

Photo - Fatima - Dan Bergeron / fauxreel - in Torontoist

To determine the root cause of homelessness it’s important to investigate the genesis of the single cause most often targetted – the lack of affordable housing – in view of the United Nations covenant. The international agreement is:

The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

It includes such basic human rights as – the right to Self-determination, equal rights for men and women,  the right to work,  the right to just and favorable conditions of work,  the right to form and join trade unions,  the right to social security and social insurance,  rights to protection and assistance for the family, the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, the right to education, the right to take part in cultural life and to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications…

And –

Article 11 – The right to an adequate standard of living

Which clearly states:
1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing- and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right, recognizing to this effect the essential importance of international cooperation based on free consent.

This right to “adequate housing” is so crucial, that it is the only factor to be extensively defined and in a General Comment to the Covenant, General Comment No. 4 – which  reveals the extensive nature of the protection included under article 11 and elaborates legal interpretations of the right to adequate housing which go far beyond restricted visions of this right as simply a right to shelter. In it, the Committee, which has given more attention to the right to housing than to any other right under the Covenant, states (in part):

“The right to housing, should not be interpreted in a narrower restrictive sense which equates it with, for example, the shelter provided by merely having a roof over one’s head . . . Rather it should be seen as the right to live somewhere in security, peace and dignity”.  The Committee has defined the term “adequate housing” to comprise –

  • security of tenure
  • availability of services
  • affordability
  • habitability
  • accessibility
  • location
  • and cultural adequacy

Affordability is defined such that personal or household financial costs associated with housing should be at such a level that the attainment and satisfaction of other basic needs are not threatened or compromised;  Location so that adequate housing must be in a location which allows access to employment options, health-care services, schools, child-care centres and other social facilities; and cultural adequacy means that the way housing is constructed, the building materials used and the policies supporting these must appropriately enable the expression of cultural identity and diversity of housing.

The states and nations party to this covenant (including Canada) regognize the interdependance of basic rights – ” the full enjoyment of other rights – such as the right to freedom of expression, the right to freedom of association (such as for tenants and other community-based groups), the right to freedom of residence and the right to participate in public decision-making – is indispensable if the right to adequate housing is to be realized and maintained by all groups in society” .  Further, rights such as the right to adequate housing in turn are integral to a persons ability to enjoy other basic human rights.

It is important to discuss this in our investigation of the root causes of homelessness – especially in the light of our own government policies – policies, laws and regulations at the municipal, provincial and federal levels can not be in contravention of this covenant. We must hold policy makers and politicians accountable to the rule of law in how our social safety net is put into practice and demand that barriers to the enjoyment of basic human rights are removed. We must be vigilant to ensure that nobody is subjected to discrimination which affects their right to adequate housing.

For example – if we look at the conditions on First Nations reserves and the housing solutions provided there, can we say that our First nations people have access to housing which is affordable and meets the internationally agreed upon standards for location and cultural adequacy?

In the next part I’ll review how the United Nations has helped develop a broad definition of homelessness. Many people do not take the time to define “homelessness” in their policies and programs. If we are to determine root causes then we must use a common definition.

Your comments are needed – share this with as people as possible, on Facebook, Digg, Reddit. If you’re on Twitter, tweet this link and your comments with the new Twitter hashtag #whyhomeless.  Reply to me @canayjun Get the word out.

BE the change!

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What do you think is the root cause of homelessness? Part 2

Read – What do you think is the root cause of homelessness? Part I

Homelessness – The Root Causes – Part II

See it - by canayjun / Mrpicassohead

See it - by canayjun / MrPicassohead

In Part I of the series, I shared the results of informal surveys of volunteers over the last few years of what people think is the root cause of homelessness. It’s important to address this issue. Much has already been written and studied on how to help the homeless, but I strongly believe we have still missed the mark. To define this is critical in alleviating homelessness. (We still need your input and comments here too)

…if we are not targeting the root cause of the problem, then homelessness will only worsen. It’s like finding a cure for a disease. Homelessness is a plague on our society.  Instead of just treating symptoms we need to find a cure for those who are already homeless and we need to protect the entire population from the risk of being exposed to homelessness.

I’ve already listed what most people think are the causes –

Alcohol and drug abuse, addictions
Loss of a job, the economy, bankruptcy
Family problems and break-ups
Lack of education – not being qualified for well paying job
Poor judgment, making bad choices and laziness
Choice – some people just choose to be homeless
————-
Mental illness
Physical disability
Abuse in the home
– youth runaways
Violence against women

– and that most people would target addictions and family dysfunctions when asked to choose the top reasons. My colleague Steve, a member of the Sanctuary community in Toronto and outreach worker with the Center for Student Missions, himself formerly homeless, targets job loss as the number one reason. He predicts a large upswing in the numbers of homeless in a few months due to the current recession when EI and layoff / severance benefits run out.  Some comments, here and on Facebook, Reddit and Twitter,  have had good suggestions to give other factors more priority, such as

Mental health issues
Veterans suffering PTSD
Gender inequality
Bias regarding sexual orientation
Low Minimum wages

As I explain to our volunteers after a night out serving the homeless on the streets where they live – all of these answers fall short of the mark. None of these factors, in themselves, cause homelessness. None of them identify the root cause of homelessness.  I am not denying that all of the homeless people I know have faced many of these challenges in their lives.  I’m merely pointing out that these factors are just symptoms of our human condition in the society we have created.  Many of them terrible, painful and de-humanizing, but just characteristics of modern life nonetheless. Most homeless programs address some combination of these issues.  Most core funding to solve homelessness is centered around a model of personal healing for individuals who are victims of those listed issues.

I’m going to use two examples to illustrate my point:

  • Alcoholism and victims of abuse.

Most people see the huge prevalence of alcohol abuse on the streets by homeless people as an indication that it is the addiction of that person that is the main contributor to their homelessness. However,  not every alcoholic is homeless or becomes homeless in the course of their struggles with the addiction. Another of society’s plagues, the percentage of adult North Americans who are alcoholics is difficult to determine – different studies range from 5% to 30%.  Much alcoholism goes undiagnosed and there is an overlap between habits of people who abuse alcohol and those who are dependant on alcohol (addicted).  It’s estimated less than 25% of people seek treatment for alcohol abuse or addiction. But if we used the figure of 5% as people who are dependant on alcohol and applied that to the adult population of Toronto [1,879,000 adults aged 25 to 64, census 2006], we would arrive at a number of almost 94,000 people suffering from alcohol addiction in the GTA.   Even if we assume that about 25%  of those people were actively seeking treatment, the remaining 75,000  people are not all homeless (although many may be at risk of becoming homeless due to secondary factors such as job loss, family dysfunction and secondary medical disabilities).

The total number of homeless in Toronto has been estimated to be between 40-50,000 (including the under-housed) and the majority of those people are not alcohol abusers or addicts. The street population – that is those who are absolutely without shelter and/or living in overnight emergency shelters has been pegged at approximately 5,000 while those living outside roughly number only from 500 to 1,000.  Again, not all of those people are alcoholics.  In my experience from one third to half of the homeless I serve on the street have an alcohol abuse problem and it often dates to the period after they became homeless.  At best, based on a total local number of 94,000 alcoholics, that means less than three percent of the street homeless are there as a result of alcoholism.  So you can see that alcoholism is not a root cause, merely a significant contributing factor. [ I realize there are challenges in treating statistics in this manner, as not all of the homeless in Toronto originate from Toronto, still I believe the disparity is significant]

My next example is of victims of abuse specifically youth:

It is said that nearly one in five young people – 19 and under – will be victims of physical, sexual and/or psychological abuse in their lifetimes – a terrible statistic (some reports are much higher). In the Toronto census area there are 679,960 youth from the ages of 10 to 19 years of age. Using that one in five ratio means that there is a potential toll of abuse being faced by about 135,000 youth in the Toronto GTA.  The CBC’s Fifth Estate has reported (2004) that on any given night there are between 1,500 to 2,000 homeless youth in Toronto.  I know from experience that many of those street homeless youth are victims of abuse. You don’t want to hear what I have heard from them, or see the brokenness that I have witnessed in their young lives. The total numbers however reflect that only a minority percentage become homeless.  Once again abuse is probably not the root cause of homelessness.

A similar statistical review of the other identified issues such as mental health challenges, family break-ups, job loss, economic downturn would show the same results. All of those issues are faced by the the entire population at some point. Everyone in our society encounters serious crisis situations in their lives and yet it is a relatively small percentage of the population who actually experience homelessness. Even if there are, as some estimates claim,  fifty thousand homeless in the GTA, that only represents about 1% of our total population (Toronto Census Metropolitan Area 5,113,149 – 2006 StatsCan).

So what is the root cause of homelessness?

I have to say that I am not sure anymore as a result of starting this whole process. I know what I say to our volunteers. I know what other experts and poverty relief organizations are trying to get the public to hear. I know what at least one person who commented on the last post already suspects (thanks Jayne from Interfaith Sanctuary Housing Services).

The root cause of homelessness is said to be-

the lack of affordable housing.

The gentrification of Moss Park - Homelessness - photo by A Coats

I tell all my Project417 volunteer groups that the root cause is the lack of accessible, safe and affordable housing. Cathy Crowe, a street nurse and homelessness advocate for over twenty years is a recipient of the Atkinson Economic Justice Award.  She says in her most recent newsletter

… despite my efforts and the efforts of a great many others, homelessness in Canada remains a very real disaster and as this recession unfolds, the disaster is only going to grow with no real end in sight. As I have said many times before, Canada desperately needs a National Housing Program and we need it now!

The Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida lists affordable housing and loss of a job as the primary causes of homelessness. The National [U.S.] Alliance to End Homelessness list affordable housing and permanent supportive housing as a key step in their plan to eliminate homelessness. The Toronto Disaster Relief Committee targets affordable housing funding with their Housing Not War and 1% Solution campaign.  The Ontario Coalition Against Poverty demands “decent, affordable, accessible housing for all”.

The right to housing is a basic human right defined by the United Nations, ratified and signed by Canada and most other Western nations. And yet,  it is the lack of affordable housing which most suspect to be the leading contributor to homelessness in every town and city in North America where it exists.  Until recently I believed the same but I feel we have not yet identified the root cause of homelessness.

I need your comments. Post them here.  Share this on Facebook, Digg, Reddit and Twitter with the twitter hashtag #whyhomeless and twitter reply to @canayjun so I can see the tweets. Re-post this blog on your own website and link back here. The permalink is –

https://missionlog.wordpress.com/2009/07/14/what-do-you-think-is-the-root-cause-of-homelessness-part-2

I will explore this further in the next post because I suspect now that even the issue of affordable housing does not sufficiently capture the underlying “root” cause of homelessness. I feel the solution is within our grasp. Join the discussion… social networking and the internet offer us the ability to establish a wide ranging and influential grassroots movement to change the way we view and treat homelessness. BE the change…

Thank-you

<><

Andy Coats

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Brandon Crisp – Missing Teen – Latest Updates and Links

UPDATE  – Wednesday, November 5, 2008 | 2:50 PM ET — There has been some sad, discouraging news that a body of a young male has been found in the area police were searching for Brandon Crisp, missing since October 13th.  Police have not confirmed the identity yet. The latest report, made less than an hour ago on local and national news is available on cbc.ca Our prayers are with Brandon’s family.
Here are other updates and links to sites concerning the search for Brandon Crisp.

Nov. 5 – 2008 – Witness Reports second sighting of Brandon Crisp – National Post

Nov, 3 – 2008, 1:00 PM  Latest Update – Barrie Police

See also –
The Facebook Group at –
America’s Most Wanted Web Update at –
Also try –
Anyone with information is asked to call the Barrie Police at (705) 725-7025 ext# 2160
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Help Find Missing Youth – Brandon Crisp

From thestar.com – It’s been two weeks since Brandon left home after an argument over an online video game. His bike was found about 6 miles from home a few days later along the Rail Trail, an abandoned railway line through Oro-Medonte near Lake Simcoe, ON. Sgt.  Dave Goodbrand said Microsoft has agreed to help police track Brandon’s online gaming partners. [end of excerpt] Can you help? Are you an online gamer or internet friend that had any contact with Brandon preceding his disappearance? Perhaps you can help. Call Barrie Police (705)725-7025. Read more for the Star articles, or visit the simcoe.com site set-up for Brandon Crisp.

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