Two positive developments in recent weeks indicate a clear understanding and the taking of concrete action with regard to the direct link between two sets of twin issues: homelessness and the absence of adequate affordable housing, on the one hand, are directly related to poverty and the broader realities of economic marginalization, on the other.
Those considerations were highlighted in Toronto Mayor John Tory’s announcement earlier this month that the city’s Open Door housing plan will be strengthened by a system of fast-track approvals and incentives. More specifically, five city-owned lots will be released immediately and 30y more will be provided in the near future to boost the private sector’s building of affordable housing.
Equally encouraging was the one-day event Homeless Connect Toronto 2015 at Mattamy Athletic Centre (formerly Maple Leaf Gardens) on Nov. 8. It was a joint effort involving 150 enthusiastic and caring volunteers from 70 agencies. It resulted in 500 homeless persons receiving, free of charge, basic toiletries and utility items plus a full range of services that included health care and personal grooming, in addition to counseling and advisory services for ongoing health care, housing, training and employment.
For the outstanding success of that event, full credit and congratulations are in order for Executive Director Melody Li, her team of volunteers who came from all walks of life, and for co-host Ryerson University.
The point has been made over and over again that a caring society and a caring economy must go hand in hand. It is also generally agreed that for both of these objectives to be achieved the required policies and programs must be comprehensive, holistic and sustainably long-term.
The logic of those three criteria is vitally strategic. The policies and programs must be comprehensive so as to address all aspects of the subject. They must be holistic because they need to feed into and be supported by all the other policies and programs of our various levels of government. And they have to be sustainably long-term in order to fit into a vision that provides for both prevention and cure of the ills and deficiencies of our society and our systems.
As Torontonians, we recognize the importance of the contributions being made by every segment of our society (government, private companies, not-for-profit agencies, academia and individual persons). We also recognize that the inter-connectedness of life must be replicated in the integrative nature of the policies and programs that manage our society’s affairs.
For those reasons, The Caribbean Camera thinks it necessary to reproduce the following edited quotations from the work of the Wellesley Institute:
“Every nation that permits people to remain under fetters of preventable disease and [that] permits social conditions to exist that make it impossible for them to be properly fed, clothed and housed so as to maintain a high degree of resistance and physical fitness […] is trampling on a primary principle of democracy.”
“[Every nation that] endorses a wage that does not afford sufficient revenue for the home, [every nation that endorses a wage that does not afford] revenue that will make possible development of a sound mind and body, is trampling on a primary principle of democracy.”