With each passing day the mercury on the thermometer slowing drops, the rain becomes a bit more relentless and the furious winter winds cause it to blow sideways. Housing the homeless this time of year always becomes a challenge, trying to formulate a plan for the coldest nights so no one will be left on the back alleys, or in open doorways. But despite best efforts there are some who seem to defy all logic and decide to stay on the street. Now, I don't want to compare Saskatoon winter with Victoria's. But when you combine wet, wind and cold...it has the effect of velcro. Its a cold that anyone on the street will tell you, " it sticks to you and won't let go."
But some people in the inner city will go out of there way to avoid shelters. You would think with all the people in the shelter their might be a sense of community. Most folks will tell you, no. A lot of times it's an amplification of what's on the street. It's a more crowded sense of disconnect, isolation, brokenness, fear...in which the barometric pressure of emotion can feel like a brewing storm.
Jordon Cooper is " Residential Coordinator " at the Salvation Army Shelter in Saskatoon. Jordon has been in that position for a number of years and has his fingers on the pulse of poverty, homelessness and addiction in the inner city. Through his hands on experience he has gleaned a lot of wisdom. And in a recent StarPhoenix article" Homeless need not just Shelter " Jordon explains the difference between shelter and home. These following quotes from the article reveal how shelters really don't solve the homeless problem...it's more a band aide solution.
" For years when I talked and read about homelessness, I thought it was about shelter. It’s not.Homelessness is a lack of home, a place to go to be safe, find someone who loves you and you love back, and a place where you have connections to others. A shelter that doesn’t have any of that is just a place to crash and stay warm."
" The solution isn’t emergency shelters, but a place where they can find what they are looking for – whether that’s safety, friends or just a quiet place to call home.
Until we manage to build the affordable and social housing that can make this happen, we will have people freezing outside because to them, it’s not any worse than all their other options."
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