Chronicling community action, revolutionary and revealing thought

Monday, June 21, 2004

Don Weitz on the homeless issue

Not one federal party "leader" has discussed the issue of affordable housing and the national shame and disaster of homelessness so far. Ask Paul Martin, Jack Layton Stephen Harper- WHY NOT? Paul Martin in a pre-election mode, sometimes claimed he and his Liberal Party were committed to affordable housing and plan to spend "$680 million" for affordable housing across Canada over the next 5 years. Really?1 That promise is about as credible as the Liberal and Tory promise to "eliminate child poverty by year 2000". Jack Layton should also be criticized. In 2000, Layton published his book titled "Homelessness-The Making and Unmaking of a Crisis - he seemed to really care about doing something to alleviate this national disaster and shame. BUT during his election campaign Layton has said virtually nothing about building affordable housing - except to mention once or twice in 10-second soundbites an NDP promise to build "20,000 units" each year for the next 5 years. But there has been no detailed discussion by these "leaders", no analysis of homelessness, affordable housing, or poverty by the media. I also never heard Layton, Martin and Harper mention homelessness or affordable housing as a major issue during the recent tv debates or in their tv ads. In this election, homelessnes and affordable housing are non-issues, no discussion of a national housing policy. All this in the second richest country in the world!

Layton, Martin and Harper have betrayed us and what little is left of our "social safety net". More disturbing, these "leaders" have betrayed and lied to the many thousands of homeless and poor people struggling to survive on our mean streets and in overcrosded, disease-ridden (TB), bug-infested, violence-prone shelters. These "leaders" have also betrayed 72,000 thousand families in Toronto waiting for years for an affordable and decent place to live, and they've betrayed at least another hundred thousand people across Canada waiting to be housed while denied the international human right to safe and affordable housing.

A goddamn disgrace and shame! Equally shameful is the stunning lack of public outrage or mass protest! It's time to c√łnfront these "leaders" and your local candidates at all-candidates meetings. If not now, when?

Don Weitz
social justice activist