Thoughts of home and the homeless on a cold winter day in Parkdale

By Frances Sedgwick
True North Perspective

Frances Sedgwick's keen eye and ear for the human condition reveals the heart and soul of Parkdale in southwest Toronto, one of the country's most turbulent urban areas where the best traditions of human kindness prevail against powerful forces that would grind them down. True North Perspective proudly presents a column by writer Frances Sedgwick. Her critical observation combined with a tender sense of humour will provide you with something to think about ... and something to talk about.

As you shovel off the latest snow from your driveway or front path don't complain too much. There is a hot cup of coffee inside when you are finished.

As you bundle up to go out in the beauty of winter enjoy because you know you have a warm house or apartment waiting on your return.

But some people don't have a permanent warm place to find shelter from the cold "beauty" of winter.

The homeless.

And yes, I'm tired of hearing the old cliche "they are out there because they want to be".

On the news I heard the sad statistics.  In Toronto there are between 5,000 to 6,000 homeless ( and probably more - how can you accurately count the homeless?).

There are only 3,500  spaces in shelters.

Have you ever been to one of these shelters? Maybe if did you would see why some homeless prefer to sleep outside.

Also on the news I saw a plea for donations of backpacks and sleeping bags.  The backpacks were to be filled with some basic toiletries.

These are to be distributed to the homeless.

I just couldn't believe this brazen acceptability that it was okay to leave people on the street - just give them a sleeping bag and a few toiletries.

All around Parkdale you see condominiums going up over night.  Every parking lot, every vacant space is filled with these new condos.

But as one superintendent told me, "you won't see anymore apartments being built.  There is not enough profit in them". 

No low cost housing is being built. No housing for those unfortunate to be living on the edge.

Are we really one of the richest countries in the world?

Isn't adequate shelter a human right?

My Parkdale