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Home » Open Clamshell, Poverty Sucks

Toronto Gets a New Homeless Shelter

Submitted by on Sunday October 31, 2010 – 1:12 pm | No Comment
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Picture was taken by Rachel Atwell as part of her faces of Toronto project on 10/10/10, this young man is numbered among the homeless in this city.

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

By Hollie Pollard

Toronto got a new homeless shelter this week. 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 two 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 their neighbourhood. Really, who does? Both the Toronto Sun and BlogTO have called it a place of luxury. I wonder if the writers have ever experienced a moment of homelessness. Maybe their 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 passionate 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, and depression. When you cannot 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 me… giving 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.

Originally published in CommonCentsMom, By Hollie Pollard.

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