An acquaintance of mine is back on the streets, homeless once more. Now Kerry (I am taking his word that he does not mind me using his name as opposed to Mr. X) is bright, articulate and hard-working. Once he arrived in Abbotsford last spring he hustle jobs to get the cash together to meet the amount required to get off the street and into habitation. As I have observed, personally experienced and written about, getting the money needed to take that HUGE step from being homeless to having a home is daunting. Social assistance tends to be more a series of obstacles rather than of assistance and the shelter rate is so low and totally unrealistic that in its way it acts as a barrier as well. The city government has been a barrier to any organization wanting to help with the need for housing aimed to transition people off the street, into reduced rental housing, the workforce and on into the regular housing market. Thus it is that I find myself (as noted in the previous posting) starting work but facing another two months or so of homelessness in order to accumulate the stake needed to pay the full market rental costs in Abbotsford. Two tough months of struggling to get to work, managing to bath. to do laundry, be presentable and to somehow find enough food to eat.
It is fine for politicians and others, living in some world where they see only what they want to see, to talk so easily of “they just need to get off their lazy asses and find a job”. Reality is an entirely different matter. I have no idea of how many people this inability or refusal to understand a basic economic fact/truth has denied employment and housing to by failing to provide the badly needed aid to make the transition.
It was somewhat chilling to see Kerry back on the street while I am preparing for the scramble to (at some point) transition off the street. He was injured, could not work for several weeks (a broken ankle had him hobbling around with his foot encased) and having no savings (since it is hard enough to get enough $$$ together to get a place, you cannot manage a savings “cushion” as well) – BAM – out on the street. Social Assistance is not designed (but should be) to quickly step in and provide aid so you do not become homeless, bridging the gap until you can return to work. In fact the workers deny you the 185.00 (as well as the 325.00 which you would reasonable expect not to receive) claiming that homelessness prevents you from finding work. But the system will not do anything to prevent this homeless ness from occurring. Oh yes, it also ignores evidence it does not want to see – such as the fact that I managed to find employment while homeless (thanks in part to the current system) and dealing with, or at least trying to deal with, the idiocy of the current system. it just required a lot more determination and effort to overcome the millstone of the system’s “assistance”.
With all else that is on my plate in the struggle to get back on my feet, I really did not need to be reminded of the obstacles faced in that undertaking and how fragile ones grip on home, work and even a very basic, simple lifestyle can be.