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Toronto Gets a New Homeless Shelter

October 31, 2010


Toronto got a new homeless shelter this weeek..some have even called it the Homeless Hilton or a place of luxury..Let me tell them a thing or two about any homeless shelter they are there to offer a safe haven, not a hotel and in our city 2 homeless people die every week. With that said we are a city who scream when a new shelter goes up,  as who wants it in thier neighbourhood..Really who does? Both the Toronto Sun and B log TO have called it a place of luxury. I wonder if the writers have ever experienced a moment of homelessness. Maybe there tunes would change. While the cost overrides on this project needs to be questioned we should never question providing a safe haven or  the services provided by a shelter. Question costs, yes! Question the need to provide beds and services to save a life: never!

Why am I so passinate about this? You see I was once homeless in a city shelter. Staying in a shelter is not an experiece I would wish on anyone. I have had to stay in a shelter twice. Once in New Mexico and here in Toronto. After my divorce, I went from co-owning 11 properties to homeless literally overnight. I gave birth to a baby girl while homeless.I was terrified as most who enter the doors. When one hits rock bottom there is fear, anger, ad depression. When you can not provide for yourself one needs a help up not a hand out. I know I did. I needed a community who cared.

When I arrived back in Canada, I stayed at the Red Door on Queen Street. Life with a newborn child in a shelter is no joy. There was no joy, no peace. I lived to get things done. I was thankful though that I had a bed for the night. I was thankful that they helped me get medical attenton for my sick child ( Rachel had been born protein intolerant, and the only formula she could have cost $30 a can).The shelther offered important services so we could get a little bit of our lives back…well in actuality so Rachel could have a first home.

Shelters play an important role in our city. They allow people who do fall into that deep abyss a safe haven in which to rebuild. They are not a Hilton. They are a safe bed, a place to reassemble the pieces of a life. Can we really place a price tag on that? Should we not be wanting to do more to give a hand up. I know I did not want to be homeless at the time and now we have a place, I have a job and we have moved on but I will never forget the help that came when I was homeless. Instead of walking past in a hurry, perhaps we should be looking for ways in which we can help reintergrate those that are in the abyss.

Many who have been homeless are now housed. Many are like back in the community. May we see this new shelter as a great tool in providing support to those in need. May we see it as as a hand up and not as a Hilton.

*the picture was taken by Rachel Atwell as parf of her faces of Toronto project on 10/10/10, this young man is numbered among the homeless in this city.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 31, 2010 5:22 pm

    This was a really great article.. I was impressed by your struggles and strength!

  2. Mrs B permalink
    November 7, 2010 6:44 pm

    Excellent article, more people need to visit and see for themselves that these shelters are not the lap of luxuries. When I threw my Hubbies 50th birthday party I asked everyone to not bring the stupid gag gifts, or anything for Hubby. He has everything he needs and he is able to buy what he wants. I asked guest to clean out their closets, I included a list of personal care items they could buy. When Hubby arrived at his surprise party he had to walk past 6 tables piled high with gifts for the local shelter. That was the best present we could have given him. (His favourite items were the steel toe work boots , gloves and hard hats, this would give someone the opportunity to get a job they otherwise would not have gotten as you need your own equipment)

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