I held a rally for the homeless July 22 in Polson Park at 3 p.m. I spoke with every church and congregation, the mayor’s office, everyone. “I have a solution,” I said. “All it takes is us working together.”
No one showed up. Although none of them knew it, the rally wasn’t really about the homeless, it was about us, all of us. No one really wants addicts, the homeless, drunks, those living on meager incomes…somehow it is their fault. Why? They are a mirror of us – strip away the veneer, the masks; and this is what you are left with.
I hear that council is working hard on the problem. The federal government spent $7 billion on homelessness last year. We have had the wool pulled over our eyes by a system that demands more and accomplishes less. Yet here we are. Churches and congregations, unwilling to work together, continue to fight symptoms. Good hearted people to be sure, but what if there is an answer in plain sight?
Can you give up the need to be the only ones who have the truth and instead work together united as the spiritual heart of our communities?
What of our role as a society in creating those we call the least of ourselves? I would pose that if anyone of us had lived the life these people did, suffered through what they suffered through, and had the same level of consciousness that they did, it would be us in the park.
The answer can’t appear here, it comprises 2,600 words. Perhaps one day someone will listen. Until then, I leave you with a few questions. What if there was a solution that not only met the needs of all sides, but also would save the taxpayer a small fortune? What if this solution would also heal another wound — a wound that is still going on? Would anyone truly want to listen then?
Aside from the glaring successes of housing first programs, the City of Regina just completed a $400,000 pilot project housing and providing treatment for 26 individuals. The results show a savings of $1.9 million in costs to the system and the local economy, or nearly five times the rate of return. A whole host of unexpected benefits included more court appearances, less policing and a drop in petty crimes. The list goes on.
I am one of those non-producers. I care for my neighbours, and help those whom I am able. Despite all of the rhetoric about the homeless issue, I’d rather focus on solutions. Maybe it’s time we all did.