I finished up my final shift of the season at the Warming Room. I have mixed feelings. On the one hand I’m ready for a rest. On the other hand I’m concerned about my friends who a heading for the streets, it’s been a cold wet few months. The lucky ones will find housing but for the most part these folks are destined for the street. Some will get a tent, the rest a blanket, a ground sheet and our best wishes. In the news I see we’ve had multiple stabbings as of late. These streets are not the place for our most vulnerable. I read the paper, we hold meetings and town halls on homelessness and poverty reduction and right across the page others advocate seeking $4 million for a new Canoe Museum. A good cause I’m sure, but how do we prioritize our homeless, the addicted and those with Mental Heath issues? Those who understand ask for a mere pittance in comparison to millions for some of these big projects. A homeless friend just told me the city came to his camp site, (yes he was a squatting) and gave them a few minutes to pack up and move along. I don’t get it. We have no money to keep the shelter open so we kick people out. What are they supposed to do? Where are they supposed to go? The cities evictors gave no answer to that, just somewhere else. No wonder these folks become desperate. Desperate people do desperate things. Yes, a few will end up in jail. I know that some in power would rather these folks just disappear but these people are us! A friend just said the other day, most of us are two bad weeks away from homelessness. How is it we prioritize building new parks, museums and libraries but do not care for our people? Gandhi once said, “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members”.

It costs but a fraction to support and house people compared to the millions to incarcerate and hospitalize these folks. What will have to happen before those with the power open their eyes? In the mean time I will continue to serve and do what I can to advocate for those who can’t for themselves.

Paul Hogle