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Victoria homelessness and street-related issues


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#21 josephelopod

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 04:15 PM

there is a large population of couch surfers and homeless with car, who are hard to identify because for all appearances generally look very functional. this demographic has some pride intact and may not go to food banks or public showers, but rely on a friend for some amenities, yet has no property of their own. those no overnight parking signs at beacon hill arn't there for decoration!

perceptions of the homeless can be difficult, especially trying to explain to children. there is this overwhelming tendancy to explain away all street people as junkies. when I'm in town with my kids, which is pretty often, if we see someone panning who has a dog, or more rarely a cat, someone trying to sell their paintings or crafts, some selling street newz, people toting around a tonne of recyclables, I tell them that these are people who are trying to make some effective change in their lives and are publically showing it by not imbiding in b&e and other sorts of thefts. these are the people that should be empowered and not swept up with the severe junkie criminals that have no capacity left for personal or private respect.

and, hi all, first post! I'm not sure if any of these things have been said in other threads, will slowly wind my way around this interesting pocket of town.

#22 KublaKhan

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 03:53 PM

there is a large population of couch surfers and homeless with car, who are hard to identify because for all appearances generally look very functional. this demographic has some pride intact and may not go to food banks or public showers, but rely on a friend for some amenities, yet has no property of their own. those no overnight parking signs at beacon hill arn't there for decoration!



I get your point. However, the insinuation is that those who don't look functional, have no pride.

perceptions of the homeless can be difficult, especially trying to explain to children.


Simple solution: tell the kids that these people live on the streets. The streets are their homes. This is where they live, eat, sleep, relieve themselves, bathe, cry, shiver, work, forge relationships, etc. etc. etc. It's an honest and direct answer.

there is this overwhelming tendancy to explain away all street people as junkies. when I'm in town with my kids, which is pretty often, if we see someone panning who has a dog, or more rarely a cat, someone trying to sell their paintings or crafts, some selling street newz, people toting around a tonne of recyclables, I tell them that these are people who are trying to make some effective change in their lives and are publically showing it by not imbiding in b&e and other sorts of thefts. these are the people that should be empowered and not swept up with the severe junkie criminals that have no capacity left for personal or private respect.


Or 'these people are working their asses off trying to earn an honest living.'

Consider how many tonnes per year a city's worth of gleaners removes in recyclable materials. Yanking glass and tin and plastic out of the waste stream can be risky business. It's dirty and inglorious work. But it's work, and it contributes to their personal economy, and the broader economy as well AND proves just how generally fraudulent mainstream society is in playing green.


#23 josephelopod

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 09:47 AM

I get your point. However, the insinuation is that those who don't look functional, have no pride.


fair enough!! there is a general dismissal of panhandlers by the other members of the downtown community that dehumanizes them. when someone asks you for the time you don't ignore them and pretend you havn't heard or seen them, but people often do this when being asked for change. it takes a tough skin to be snubbed consistently by other people daily, and there is pride there.

I guess what I was trying to say was the couchsurfing/car dwelling demographic has a different sort of pride, that they don't necessarily see themselves as a marginalized people in need of assitance. possibly shame of seeking out services is admission of defeat or crossing an invisible line. it's a hard thing to generalize as you can't even quantify how big the situation is.

Simple solution: tell the kids that these people live on the streets. The streets are their homes. This is where they live, eat, sleep, relieve themselves, bathe, cry, shiver, work, forge relationships, etc. etc. etc. It's an honest and direct answer.


I don't think that all of the street people on a equal basis. there are many who are there because of cracks in the housing/welfare situation, mental health, injuries, tragedy and addictions. there is also a portion who are in a hard drug and criminal atmosphere who don't have the same desire to affect positive change in their lives or others. this is necessary to distinguish as it's not one solution for the the whole homeless community. I use these telltale signs ( selling crafts, owning a pet, street newz, etc ) to explain to my kids that these are not the same sorts of homeless people who actually do pose a risk to the community. to deny that the junkie community is causing incredible personal and commercial loss across the board is as unfortunate as blaming every other homeless person downtown for those crimes.

#24 KublaKhan

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 12:49 PM

Simple solution: tell the kids that these people live on the streets. The streets are their homes. This is where they live, eat, sleep, relieve themselves, bathe, cry, shiver, work, forge relationships, etc. etc. etc. It's an honest and direct answer.


I don't think that all of the street people on a equal basis. there are many who are there because of cracks in the housing/welfare situation, mental health, injuries, tragedy and addictions. there is also a portion who are in a hard drug and criminal atmosphere who don't have the same desire to affect positive change in their lives or others. this is necessary to distinguish as it's not one solution for the the whole homeless community. I use these telltale signs ( selling crafts, owning a pet, street newz, etc ) to explain to my kids that these are not the same sorts of homeless people who actually do pose a risk to the community. to deny that the junkie community is causing incredible personal and commercial loss across the board is as unfortunate as blaming every other homeless person downtown for those crimes.


I don't deny there are as many reasons for living on the street as there are people living on the street. It's a mutli-faceted and well-populated problem.

My point was to suggest that when asked the question, answer directly and honestly by telling your kids that these people live on the streets, etc. etc. and forget the judgement call as to why they are there.

Or at least, you can say, "Well son/daughter...it's a complicated issue.

#25 josephelopod

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 02:56 PM

edit

#26 Caramia

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 06:10 PM

There is a huge difference between the relatively small group of criminal junkies (many of whom are housed but who are very visible downtown) and the many non-criminal people struggling with drug addiction or mental illness, the non-criminal, non-visible homeless who are pretty functional and who blend in easily. The tendancy to lump everyone under one blanket, or conversely seperate them out into neat little sub-categories that may not work, is, in my opinion, one of the reasons we have the problem we do.
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#27 Willa

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 10:33 AM

Getting back, briefly, to the discussion of legalizing drugs. From what I understand, there are many taxes placed on alcohol -- a legalized drug.

So, if we legalize other drugs, we can tax the crap out of them, and make money -- which we then can use to pay for more cops downtown, fund treatment programs and create more housing solutions. If marijuana is such a lucrative industry here in B.C., the government should be swimming in cash.

#28 m0nkyman

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 11:06 AM

Seeing as drugs are such a huge part of our economy, we're seeing a fair whack of wealth from it already.

From increased home prices due to 5% of the housing stock being used for grow ops, to the spending effect of people having to replace stolen household goods on a frequent basis....

#29 Caramia

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 11:20 AM

Monkeyman this year's "Glass Half Full" award goes to you.
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#30 KublaKhan

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 03:04 PM

Edit

#31 G-Man

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Posted 29 March 2007 - 07:49 AM

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to pop in remind everyone that Vibrant Victoria is a place for open discussion of opinions on sometimes difficult issues. I know that there is sometimes a gravitation to think that posts in opposition are personal attacks.

Please try to think openly about issues (hey I am big offender on this somethimes myself) and refrain from discussing anything about the individual who posted the remarks.

Posts have been edited accordingly.

Thank you

Visit my blog at: https://www.sidewalkingvictoria.com 

 

It has a whole new look!

 


#32 gumgum

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 07:59 AM

Too bad it's only six beds...


Housing project will help at-risk First Nations youth
Three groups will transform Fernwood house into transitional residence

Louise Dickson, Times Colonist
Published: Saturday, March 31, 2007

Three First Nations groups have formed a partnership to develop a $1-million transitional housing project in Fernwood for at-risk aboriginal youth.

The six-bed facility will house youth, between the ages of 16 and 19, who have been in the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, said Bruce Parisian, executive director of the Victoria Native Friendship Society.

"There's no support for these children once they leave the system," said Parisian. "More than likely, they're on their own and a large number end up on the street or into drugs or crime. For us, it's about lending our support during that crucial period of time when they're on the street."

In August, the federal government's Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative, the centrepiece of the National Homelessness Initiative, offered funding for projects to deal with homelessness, said Parisian.

"But nobody applied for the funding. We said, 'We can't let this money go. We have to make an attempt.'"

The friendship centre joined forces with Surrounded by Cedars, a non-profit organization delegated by the ministry to work with aboriginal children in Victoria, and the M'akola Housing Society. They came up with the resources to develop the proposal and have secured $400,000 in federal funding.

Last week, Victoria city council gave $300,000 from its housing trust fund to the project. Parisian expects the Capital Regional District's housing trust will also contribute $300,000.

Councillors Chris Coleman and Dean Fortin, who sit on the SCPI board, met with the provincial deputy minister of Children and Family Development to talk about operational support for the project.

"They agreed it was a good proposal and that would put ongoing support into core funding which shocked and delighted everybody," said Coleman. "The sale of the house needed to close quickly so the city cut the cheque."

The $1-million price tag works out to $133,000 per unit which has round-the-clock support. "And that's what's needed to target at-risk teens on the street who could suffer potentially from sexual abuse, predation or substance abuse. It's very worthy."

More than 50 per cent of children in care in B.C. are aboriginal. The 2007 homeless needs survey also showed a disproportionate number of homeless youth are First Nations, said Parisian.

The facility will have a family atmosphere with house parents. The young people will have their own rooms and their own space. Because they'll be attending school, they'll have the freedom to come and go.

"But there will be house rules regarding drugs and alcohol," he said.

How long someone can stay depends on the individual, said Parisian. A 16-year-old might be able to stay for two years, if needed.

The aboriginal agencies will use their resources to work with the teens. M'akola will help with the construction and renovation of the Balmoral Road house, which is now a special needs foster home. Surrounded by Cedars will probably be the referral agency for the project, said Parisian.

The friendship centre can support teens in addiction programs, one-on-one counselling and programs that promote healthy living styles. The centre will also look at employment training for youth through its partnership with Camosun College.

"Our goal is to have it open in September," said Parisian.


© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007

#33 Rorschach

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 09:49 AM

About three years ago I noticed how much the streets of downtown Victoria smelled like a urinal. It's probably been a problem before that, but I'd never felt any impact by the homeless until that point. Since then, their numbers have grown and it's got to be the #1 problem in downtown Victoria. Our beautiful city has lost a great deal of it's lustre because of these people and I think because our own "compassion."

We've got a homeless center and a soup kitchen on waterfront property downtown. We have the majority of the population in "sympathy" for the homeless giving them money or donating to charities to "support" homeless people. The local newspaper editorial opinion is that the downtown merchants are being cruel and petty for posting no trespassing signs and erecting bars and barricades on their entry ways and alcoves. Every local politician expresses the proper politically correct viewpoint of portraying a desire to "help". We've even spent a few million to purchase apartments for several hundred derilicts and set up a needle exchange for them. We're seriously discussing a safe injection site for them too. Even when they break the law, there is no punishment under the law even when the police do arrest them for crimes. I see no solution in the perpetuation of our compassionate methods. I see our solutions as enabling and encouraging homelessness.

How far backward do the good people of Victoira have to bend before they fall flat on their face? Where exactly is the tipping point?

I bring up this summary to introduce my idea for a solution to the problem of homelessness. Firstly, I do not accept that the problem's source is having no home. I believe the problem is primarily alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental illness. So, why isn't the problem addressed at the source -- as a medical problem? Everyone in Canada has the right to free medical care for necessary treatment. Why doesn't this apply to the homeless derilicts arrested hundreds of times and released? At what point is it that the government can force medical treatment upon chronic alcoholics, drug addicts and mentally ill people?

Under the laws already on the books, a police officer can take a person into custody when they pose a danger to themselves or others or are unable to care for their own safety. How long they can hold them is up to medical authority. Seems to me a homeless man arrested and released a few hundred times by the police meets this criteria. So, what we need is some medical authority to force treatment upon the worst of the worst causing most of the problems. Spending money on that is money well spent.

Since AA and every 12-step program is total bullcrap and does absolutely no good. I must insist that the approach be completely medical in nature.

The vast majority of our local homeless are ordinary alcoholics. I believe proper medical treatment that could be imposed involves a drug called [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naltrexone:cd379]Naltrexone[/url:cd379].

This type of treatment has a very good record of success. The recovery rate from AA is 5% -- the same rate of recovery from no treatment. Since AA is no better than no treatment at all, it makes no sense to impose that as medical treatment. Likewise the religious aspect of 12-step programs is highly undesirable as something you could legally force upon anyone.

The main point is that there ARE legitimate and effective medical treatments for alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental illness. Effective medications for all of these maladies are available and effective squarely within the bounds of medicine.

If we're going to spend any money at all on these bums, let's not waste it. Spend it on something legitimate that has a good possibility of success. Unfortunately, it has to be forced upon the homeless. The nature of their illness makes it impossible for them to choose voluntarily to get the medical help they need.

I think our leaders need to find a legal way to force a medical solution to this problem. At some point, such measures won't be needed. The problem of homelessness can be solved and once it is it can be solved forever. Enabling bad behavior only encourages more. I say we need to deal with it for real. It can be done legally and without "Draconian" measures.

I have not thought of everything of course. So I'm interested in people poking holes my idea. Can our discussion fill the holes? Can we all here collectively brainstorm and solve this problem? And then get our national leaders to act?

#34 Holden West

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 10:23 AM

12 step and AA work for some people despite the "submitting to a higher power" stuff that turns some off. Dismissing it as worthless is strange. I suspect someone you know had a bad experience with it so you figure no-one else could succeed with it. There are good groups and bad groups. Medication can help, but usually counselling is beneficial to get at the reason why someone is killing themselves with alcohol. Sometimes it's self-medication to cover mental or physical pain, sometimes it's genetic. Some can quit cold turkey, some could use medicine, some counselling and/or therapy, some religion or AA. To each his own. Yes, the government could do more to help. There is no magic bullet solution.
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#35 Rorschach

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 11:07 AM

No 12-step program can provide specifics to demonstrate their program is effective. None. If they were as effective as people believe, they would be screaming about their successes and readily providing specific information. However, they have no such proof. Their claims of success can't be substantiated. AA's internal documents that have been disclosed show a 5% success rate. Alcoholics who seek no treatment at all recover 5% of the time according to AA.

I repeat -- you get the same result with AA treatment as you get without it. It has no medical or practical value treating alcoholism. It has nothing to do with me or my experiences. Let's say for the sake of argument that I'm as bad a person as Adolf Hitler or Josef Stalin and let's get all personal attacks and attacks on the source out of the way. Such an attack makes no difference on the success rate of AA. If Adolf Hitler was telling you about the low success rate of AA you would still discover the reality of that fact yourself. Hitler believed that 1+1=2. Do you question that 1+1=2 because Hitler believed that too?

Counseling isn't something that can be imposed. Most of these homeless people are irrational. The nature of their affliction is such that they do not have the ability to do what is in their best interests. Counseling can probably help everyone. But how could you get the law to impose a sincere commitment to counseling? Ever heard that you can't argue with a drunk? Why would you believe you could counsel one? After a few months listening to non-sequitors, what counselor wants to continue such "treatment" anyway?

With the drugs available, the alcoholism could be cured medically with a regular shot of an effective medicine. After problem #1 is solved, then you can move on to the next layer which may involve some counseling.

#36 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 12:30 PM

I'm in complete agreement with Ror.
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#37 m0nkyman

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 01:55 PM

Well, to be frank, I'm OK with the drunks. They are not the problem. Very few of them are breaking into people's homes to get a bottle of mouthwash.

The meth and crack and heroin addicts that are stealing to support their habit are the problem. They're typically younger, more desperate and they're meaner. Them, I could see forcing into detox beds... except we don't have enough detox beds for even the people begging for help getting off drugs. :(

Which is why I want to scream when the politicos start talking about wasting millions on a safe injection site. Spend the money on detox programs, and post-detox support programs!!!!!

#38 gumgum

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 06:04 PM

The real issue is that every mental disability, (caused by genetics, alcohol, drugs...whatever) is as unique as a finger print. Anybody in the mental health field will tell you that. If it were as simple as taking a pill, it would have been done by now.
And I gotta say too that I have a real problem with the term "bum".

#39 Icebergalley

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 06:39 PM

We have nothing to fear but fear itself...

Do you shop in stores that have signs posted "Private Property etc..."?

I don't..


Sunday » April 15 » 2007

Abusing the poor doesn't make city safe
'No-loitering' pettiness a symbol of our failure to maintain a civil society

Iain Hunter
Times Colonist


Saturday, April 14, 2007


What is the matter with the shopkeepers and business professionals in Victoria? When will they learn that their taxes and licences don't entitle them to boss everyone else around?

When will Mayor Alan Lowe tell them to get a life?

There's an unpleasant atmosphere downtown and it isn't caused by the people squatting on the sidewalk or sleeping in doorways. It's the people who own those doorways and think they own the sidewalk beyond, as well.

Now the Downtown Victoria Business Association has distributed ugly signs to members and they're up all over the place saying "private property" and warning people not to loiter, camp, cycle, skateboard or deposit "chattel goods" -- which is the politically correct way of describing the backpacks, blankets, garbage bags and dogs -- that homeless people and other squatters carry with them.

Some of these signs are posted outside the Greater Victoria Public Library, a place which claims not to have enough room for all its books and now, apparently, has decided there's not enough room for all members of the public who might want to read them, either.

One of these might be David Johnston. Yup, him again. This unusual character, who says he's addicted to justice, intends to camp in the library courtyard unless or until he's arrested for the umpteenth time for sleeping outside where others think he shouldn't.

If he's thrown in jail again because the law says the rain-soaked, cold ground is too good for him, he'll stop eating as he did for 36 days last year.

"I will see these signs taken down or I will die," he declared last week.

A lot of people around town who've had to put up with Johnston's nonsense assume he's a nut. At one of his court appearances the lawyer for the Crown suggested he be given a psychiatric assessment or at least be ordered to get counselling. The judge, to his credit, rejected the idea.

That judge was Robert Bauman of the B.C. Supreme Court. Before releasing Johnston on bail, Bauman described him as a man of principle and a spiritual man who can be trusted to keep his word. Those ready to have this pest thrown in the slammer again -- where he threatens to starve to death if he has to -- should remember that.

Bauman obviously realizes that clothes don't make the man. Neither do whiskers, doing without shelter, money or sex or eating garbage.

Johnston's not dirty, repulsive or violent. He's not a threat to anyone despite the Crown's contention that his actions amount to criminal contempt.

He believes that everyone has a right to sleep outdoors, especially if he or she has nowhere else to go, and cites God as his witness. And who's confident enough to say the courts won't agree with him if the charter challenge issued on behalf of Victoria's homeless last year goes ahead?

I can almost hear his worship's chain rattling. I know how someone bedding down somewhere in the open in his town must concern him. I know he must be concerned that others -- with the ground threatening to warm up -- might get the same idea. But what is the point of incarcerating for seven months, as a court was driven to by Johnston's inactivities, someone who'd really rather be left alone, outside, in God's great world, to live by his own devices? What is the point of treating this gentle soul as a criminal?

I envy Johnston his world. It sounds much nicer than that designed by the Downtown Victoria Business Association: No loitering, no cycling, no skateboarding -- no fun.

"We are challenged with the number of people who are on our streets," says Ken Kelly, the association's general manager. Yes, and many of those who are on "our" streets are even more challenged -- they haven't anywhere else to go.

"When the shelters run out of beds," says Kelly, "we end up finding some of these people in our doorways." Yes, and did anyone think of offering "these people" a little help? A bench, perhaps, or a tarp?

"All of us has a vested interest in a clean, safe and welcoming downtown," Kelly declares. Welcoming for whom? Mr. Kelly. Welcoming for whom?

Shopkeepers don't like stepping over bodies when they open their shops in the morning or close them at night. If they don't think "these people" are clean, safe or welcoming, presumably they find them dirty, dangerous and offensive and believe that their paying customers find them so, too.

So what must tourists, including those ready to brave this nuisance to spend a little money in Victoria shops, think of the "private property" signs that themselves are so unwelcoming?

What better place to loiter than the courtyard of our "public" library? It's a wonderful place to sit with a book and a sandwich. Are only people with briefcases and Starbucks coffee cups to be allowed that pleasure?

Damn it, downtown's for people. All of them.

cruachan@shaw.ca

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007








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#40 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 06:43 PM

The homeless idiots should just go **** off already.
<p><span style="font-size:12px;"><em><span style="color:rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;">"I don’t need a middle person in my pizza slice transaction" <strong>- zoomer, April 17, 2018</strong></span></em></span>

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