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Cathy Crowe: A Final Blackberry Message to Jack August 29, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Housing/Homelessness.
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Jack Layton worked with us at TDRC for years. In fact he took our 1%
campaign to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities resulting in the Big City
Mayors’ Caucus endorsement that homelessness was a national disaster. This
fuelled a national movement which included a new federal program to tackle
homelessness, but unfortunately not housing.Jack was always giving away his 1% button and would ask me for a new one each time I saw him. This past week
Beric German and I ensured a 1% button was placed among the flowers both at his
constituency office and Nathan Phillips Square.The day after he died, thinking of him, I automatically reached for my blackberry and paused. But I did
send this final email to him. I want to share it with you. Cathy

Hi Jack, just doing what I would normally do in a time like this. Emailing you. You
always replied to me within minutes. You hooked me on a blackberry!

I know you won’t get this but I also know you will get this.

Thanks for always being there for me and for people who are homeless, for all the good
fights, many of which we won thanks to your help: Homelessness declared a
national disaster, many new shelters opened, new shelter standards, the Tent
City win for housing (and they love you to this day), the fight for AIDs
funding, the closing of the Commissioner St. incinerator. I could go on and on. 

You made so clear in 1987,  in your public  inquiry into health and
homelessness, how I should direct my career in this bizarre but necessary
profession called street nursing.

One of the biggest honours in my life was to write the intro to your book on homelessness.

Years later you kept asking me to run for office. I thought you were crazy and then you and
Olivia convinced me.

You should feel confident and strong in your legacy
through myself and I believe millions of others who, inspired, challenged and
encouraged will carry on the fight.  As you so eloquently put it “Love is better
than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us
be loving, hopeful and optimstic. And we’ll change the world.”

Yes we will. Love you,

Your friend, Cathy Crowe

Sent from my BlackBerry
device on the Rogers Wireless Network, August 29, 2011

Important film:

For people
who have not seen the documentary ‘Shelter from the Storm’ directed and produced
by Michael Connolly Jack is in it and it is very powerful. It originally aired
on CBC. It is now viewable on line at Hot Docs:

http://www.hotdocslibrary.ca/en/detail.cfm?filmId=1662

Should
you like to order your personal copy of the DVD email me at
torontodisasterrelief@gmail.com

Charter challenge aims to force governments to create public housing May 26, 2010

Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Housing/Homelessness, Human Rights.
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Jennifer Tanudjaua with her childen in their home in Toronto’s Jane-Finch area.

Kirk Makin Justice Reporter

From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail Published on Wednesday, May. 26, 2010 12:12AM EDT Last updated on Wednesday, May. 26, 2010 7:04AM EDT

One major obstacle stands between Jennifer Tanudjaja and her goal of becoming a successful career woman rather than a burden on the social welfare system – paying the rent.

Struggling to stay in school, the 19-year-old mother of two children plows most of her child welfare benefits and student assistance loan into a $998 per month tenement apartment in Toronto’s Jane-Finch neighbourhood. Meanwhile, she is mired at the bottom of a 10-year wait list for public housing.

Ms. Tanudjaja’s plight lies at the heart of a Charter of Rights challenge being filed on Wednesday in an attempt to persuade the judiciary to force governments to create low-cost public housing.

A coalition of social welfare groups that is launching the challenge seeks to compel the federal and Ontario governments to provide affordable housing for those who are homeless or impoverished by the cost of putting a roof over their heads.

One of the case histories the coalition is furnishing is that of Ms. Tanudjaja, a social work student who aims to be a probation officer. Just 13 years old when her mother handed her over to child welfare authorities, Ms. Tanudjaja ran away from a group home at 15 and then spent more than a year “couch-surfing” from one friend’s home to another.

Now, she can barely eke out her rent cheque after paying for food and public transit to college. “It is honestly not worth what I’m paying at all,” Ms. Tanjudjaja said. “There are bedbugs and tiles popping out of my walls, and my pipes leak really bad.”

The legal challenge harks back to the early, heady days when activists saw the Charter as a sweeping document that could induce reluctant governments to spend money on social programs.

Tracy Heffernan, a lawyer for the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, conceded that judges have become wary of poking their noses into expenditures of public money.

“But 25 years after we got the Charter, it is time to bring it back to the people,” she said. “To allow this crisis of homelessness and inadequate housing to expand and grow and further deepen that crisis is not a good thing for the country.”

The challenge is rooted in the Charter right to equality and to life, liberty and security. A legal brief prepared by Ms. Heffernan and lawyers Peter Rosenthal and Fay Faraday notes that the federal government once played a dominant role in providing public housing. They said that it later pushed public housing onto the provinces, which off-loaded it to municipalities, which lack the tax base to shoulder it.

The brief alleges that homelessness reduces life expectancy, causes single mothers to lose custody of their children and forces victims of domestic violence to return to abusive spouses. Cuts to social assistance have steadily added to the ranks of homeless people, it added.

“The result is that those in receipt of social assistance are often unable to obtain adequate housing, many become homeless, and many more are inadequately housed,” it said. “People who are homeless are perhaps the most marginalized, disempowered, precariously situated and vulnerable group in Canadian society.”

Ms. Heffernan said that a recent study conducted for the Senate found that, over a 10-year period, the homeless could be housed for half of what it will cost to treat the medical and social problems caused by homelessness.

The documents supporting the challenge also include an affidavit from Miloon Kothari, an Indian housing expert who served as the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing from 2000-2008.

“The most striking feature of my mission to Canada was the contrast between the abundance of resources available and the dire living conditions facing the most vulnerable in society,” Mr. Kothari said.

In another affidavit, Linda Chamberlain, a Toronto woman who is mentally ill, describes 30 years living in hostels or on the streets.

“Sometimes police would pick me up and take me to a shelter,” Ms. Chamberlain said in an interview. “You can’t imagine living in places infested with bed bugs and cockroaches or in a plastic bag, scared to death of being violated. I didn’t want to wake up because I was in such pain.

“You walk around like a zombie,” she said. “There is no hope there. You lose everything. If no one helps people get into a safe place to live, how can they turn their lives around?”

Nine Steps to Peace for Obama in the New Year January 1, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Peace, War.
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DENMARK ANTIWAR IRAQ(AP Photo/Scanpix, Carl Redhead)

01 January 2009, www.truthout.org

by: Deepak Chopra, AlterNet

Steps the incoming president can take to build a peace-based economy.

    The following is a memo to Barack Obama from Deepak Chopra.

    You have been elected by the first anti-war constituency since 1952, when Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected after promising to end the Korean War. But ending a war isn’t the same as bringing peace. America has been on a war footing since the day after Pearl Harbor, 67 years ago. We spend more on our military than the next 16 countries combined. If you have a vision of change that goes to the heart of this country’s deep problems, ending our dependence on war is far more important than ending our dependency on foreign oil.

    The most immediate changes are economic. Unless it can make as much money as war, peace doesn’t stand a chance. Since aerospace and military technologies remain the United States’ most destructive export, fostering wars around the world, what steps can we take to reverse that trend and build a peace-based economy?

    1. Scale out arms dealing and make it illegal by the year 2020.

    2. Write into every defense contract a requirement for a peacetime project.

    3. Subsidize conversion of military companies to peaceful uses with tax incentives and direct funding.

    4. Convert military bases to housing for the poor.

    5. Phase out all foreign military bases.

    6. Require military personnel to devote part of their time to rebuilding infrastructure.

    7. Call a moratorium on future weapons technologies.

    8. Reduce armaments like destroyers and submarines that have no use against terrorism and were intended to defend against a superpower enemy that no longer exists.

    9. Fully fund social services and take the balance out of the defense and homeland security budgets.

    These are just the beginning. We don’t lack creativity in coping with change. Without a conversion of our present war economy to a peace economy, the high profits of the military-industrial complex ensures that it will never end.

    Do these nine steps seem unrealistic or fanciful? In various ways, other countries have adopted similar measures. The former Soviet army is occupied with farming and other peaceful work, for example. But comparisons are rather pointless, since only the United States is burdened with such a massive reliance on defense spending. Ultimately, empire follows the dollar. As a society, we want peace, and we want to be seen as a nation that promotes peace. For either ideal to come true, you as president must back up your vision of change with economic reality. So far, that hasn’t happened under any of your predecessors. All hopes are pinned on you.

————    

    Deepak Chopra is acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest leaders in the field of mind-body medicine. He is the author of over 50 books, including “Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment” and “Ageless Body, Timeless Mind

Question for Economic Experts: Can You Say “Housing Bubble”? December 8, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in Economic Crisis.
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housing-bubble

(Photo: The Financial Help Center)

by: Dean Baker, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

  The answer for many economists is apparently “no.” Many of the most important figures in economic policy over the last decade, including luminaries like Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, Robert Rubin and Henry Paulson, could not see the $8 trillion housing bubble growing right in front of their eyes. As the bubble grew larger, and the financial system became ever more highly leveraged, these folks saw nothing but blue skies ahead.

    Not only did these folks miss the bubble, even now, they still can’t seem to understand the housing bubble as its collapse throws the economy into the worst downturn since the Great Depression. That is the only possible explanation for Henry Paulson’s 4.5 percent mortgage rate policy.

    The bubble has largely deflated in many parts of the country, however, prices in many of the former bubble markets still must decline another 20 percent to 30 percent to return to trend levels. It does not make sense to apply the same policy to both bubble and non-bubble markets.

    In non-bubble markets, it might be appropriate to use aggressive measures, like extraordinarily low mortgage rates, as a tool to stabilize house prices. We want to avoid the scenario in which falling house prices create an expectation of further declines in house prices. This expectation can become self-fulfilling, as potential buyers defer purchases, causing house prices to fall further.

    By contrast, in the bubble markets, supply hugely exceeds demand at current prices. The only way to restore stability to these markets is to have prices return to levels that are consistent with the underlying supply and demand conditions. The effort to sustain prices at their current bubble-inflated level will be no more successful than an effort in 2000 to keep the NASDAQ at its 5,000 peak.

    Even worse, to the extent that we can artificially prop up house prices in these bubble markets, we would just be passing along the pain to a new contingent of homebuyers. We are not going to have 4.5 percent mortgage interest rates forever. Suppose the economy recovers in a few years and mortgage rates rise back to a more normal 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent level.

    Whatever effect low mortgage rates had in sustaining house prices will be reversed. House prices will complete their correction and today’s homebuyers may well be seeing losses of 15 percent to 20 percent when they sell their homes in five years. For a house selling at $250,000, this price decline translates into a loss of $38,000 to $50,000.

    Losing $38,000 to $50,000 would destroy the bulk of most homeowners’ wealth. That does not seem like very good policy.

    Unfortunately, most of the promoters of the housing bubble still have not owned up to the harm caused by their policy. Millions of people are facing the prospect of losing their home, and tens of millions of people are losing their life’s savings, because the people who are supposed to know better didn’t. They encouraged people to buy homes and/or borrow against them in what was quite obviously a bubble-inflated market.

    Before Paulson is allowed to carry through with his scheme to use public money in an attempt to reinflate the housing bubble, he should be forced to publicly explain how he thinks this policy will work. There are clearly people who will be badly harmed by temporarily reinflating the bubble. Unless Paulson can explain how the benefits will outweigh this harm, he should not be allowed to pursue his blanket policy of providing 4.5 percent mortgages everywhere.

    As it is, Paulson and other people in policy positions have not even acknowledged that we have a housing bubble that is in the process of deflating. Paulson could not possibly be so incompetent that he still doesn’t see the housing bubble, but for some reason he can’t bring himself to talk about it.

    If Paulson cannot bring himself to talk about the housing bubble in a serious way, then he does not deserve to be taken seriously in discussions of economic policy. The same is true of any other person in either the Bush or Obama administration. In this period of crisis, we can’t afford to waste any more time with policymakers so clueless that they can’t see an $8 trillion housing bubble.

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