We don’t talk much about poverty anymore. We talk about the middle class a lot. We don’t talk about the upper class or the rich anymore: instead we talk about them in terms of percentage points. And we don’t talk about the poor as much as we talk about those who are homeless. But there are still poor people in our society, and one member of that group wrote about it here: Falling.
He has a home, he was middleclass, and now he is poor. The story is sad but not exceptional.
I don’t know why we don’t talk about the poor so much any more. Perhaps we see poverty as shameful, not for the people who are poor, but shameful for people who don’t see themselves as poor. I don’t know. I think we do need to talk about it and the spectrum of financial status, and I think we need to work towards a fairer and more equitable society. First, we need to look and talk about it more clearly.
I have read this often and think of it frequently, especially given my current status: First Person: When the homeless man is your son – Orange County Register.
It’s a really good piece, and something you either don’t think about or don’t want to think about as a parent. Sometimes the world chews up the thing you love and try to care for, a tornado that comes through and destroys what you love, despite your best efforts. Tornados and other tragedies know nothing of your virtues and care nothing for the love you show.
You can find a description of hostile architecture here, but the best way to describe it is to show it, as Vice does here: Photos of the Most Egregious ‘Anti-Homeless’ Architecture – VICE. Once you see these photos, you will find you see examples of it everywhere in the places you frequent.
Most hostile architecture is aimed at homeless people. Sometimes it is obvious, like spikes installed on flat surfaces. Other times, it’s more subtle, like arm rests in the middle of benches. (Prevents homeless people from lying down on them.)
One of the problems with hostile architecture is that it allows us to pretend homeless doesn’t exist. If we don’t see homeless people, it’s easier to image they aren’t there. A lesser problem is that cities become more unliveable for all, because hostile architecture for anyone is hostile architecture for everyone.
We need more livable cities. And we need more support for homeless people. Hostile architecture is not the solution.
P.S. Not all hostile architecture is aimed at people. Some of it, like spikes on top of outdoor ledges, is aimed at pigeons. I’ll leave that for another post.
If you see someone in Toronto who appears to need help in dealing with this cold weather, and you aren’t sure what you can do, this page is worth reviewing: the City of Toronto’s Extreme Cold Weather Alerts page. It has numbers you can call and other information, including links to TTC Token Distribution Locations and information on 24-hour drop-ins available during extreme cold weather alerts.
Beyond resources related to cold weather, the city of Toronto has additional material on how to get involved to with the problem with homelessness in Toronto.
Obviously there are many more ways to help the homeless in Toronto throughout the year. These links are just a starting point if you are looking for information.