Photo: OPP - The disappearance of 4 homeless seniors from the Muskoka community in the late 1990's is still unsolved.
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We need to learn to invest in ourselves and in the lives of our neighbours.
It's time to stop looking at homelessness as being about strangers living on the street. A homeless person is a not a stranger, he or she is a neighbor. If we cannot think of the homeless as our neighbour, we are part of the problem. Homelessness is not a problem needing a politician. So long as we prioritize our property values and the status quo the problem will remain. Politicians cannot fix people who have homes and hard hearts and ultimately this is what needs to be fixed.
What are we expecting from governments? Will ten thousand homes emerge out of a closed-door meeting held by a select group of ministers and his advisors? The U.S. government decided people were eligible for mortgages regardless of their income. Homelessness seemed to have been solved by the stroke of a pen. In the sixties and seventies people were housed in what was called Ontario Housing. Neither program created community. The homeless do not exist because of a lack of houses, they exist because of a lack of community. We do not love our neighbour. Throwing money at a problem does not solve it. New laws will not solve the underlaying problem. Homelessness is not their problem. It's our problem. Homelessness is a community problem and it requires a community response. It is not enough to box people up and forget them. We have to embrace them as our neighbours. Government responses to homelessness parallels their response to the aged; create a weatherproof box for them and walk away. This is not what community is supposed to be about. The homeless do not need storage they need a community that cares and responds to their humanity. Perhaps we ought to do for the homeless, what we would like done to us, if we were in that same situation. It's worth thinking about.