homelessness by jack layton

“The simple fact is that criminalizing homelessness is expensive (and it doesn’t end homelessness). A Montreal study of a municipal bylaw that bans homeless people from sleeping in parks found the number of tickets issued by police grew fourfold from 1994 to 2004 for a total of 22,685. In 72 percent of the cases, the person convicted was sent to jail because he or she couldn’t pay the fine. I happen to know the exact costs in Toronto: the average cost to taxpayers for a month in jail is $4333. The average cost for a month of social housing is $199.92.” (110)

these are 2006 numbers, but i’m sure the figures have exacerbated to scale. i had the conversation again over easter dinner over the fact that resources (or lack thereof) are not the real problem, but the distribution of wealth, food, and other resources are the true issue. this was one recommended by a customer, and it’s something to read jack’s voice speaking of someone’s influence in the way that we now speak of his. it’s a pretty basic observation to point out that criminalizing the basic human need to sleep, just because people must do it outside, is perverse. but it’s always the simple things that are so brilliant.

“Like a bright light drawing moth, Toronto glows. It attracts impoverished immigrants from around the world, tantalizing them with glittering images of riches and freedom. And it pulls the dispossessed from the North with its warmth, colour and the sense that somehow life will be sweeter and kinder. For too many, it’s not. At least 47 percent of hostel users in the city over the past 10 years have come from outside Toronto.” (161)

oh, the big smoke, the screwface, t.dot-oh.

you really can’t go home again.


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