Kitchener-Waterloo Out Of The Cold

Last Update: May 31, 2017


About Them


“They have no hope.” ‐‐ CSS


I do not believe you can be homeless and not be depressed.
- Note that despair redirects to depression. Begging the question, can you be homeless and not in despair? Being in despair, is it any wonder …

It’s all about mental health - something very people time intensive to deal with, and thus very expensive.

I’ve heard it said that we build our lives on three pillars: Home, Work, and Family. Lose one, and someone well balanced will likely be able to cope and get through it. Lose two, possibly, but help and lots of support will likely be needed - mostly, but not always, coming from one’s (extended) family. Lose all three … and all bets are off.

Now suppose you are an addicted, perhaps even abused, or both, youth - not yet with the life skills needed to make your way in the world. Or your parents were - not usually superb role models to go forth from.

Or in a small, perhaps distant, community with few or no resources, ability, or awareness, to help. People being entirely occupied with just trying to get through their own lives, themselves.

Or perhaps you’ve been injured, and become addicted to prescribed pain killers. You lose your job. (1 pillar.) Then, through financial difficulty, you lose your rental. (2nd pillar.) And through the stress of the unbearable situation, you become temporarily unbearable - and you lose your family. (3rd pillar.) Once it’s gone - it’s gone. Even if you replace it later with something else - when, if, should, later ever come. Some day. That isn’t today.

Is it any wonder … *

How do you even begin to put your life back together, by this point?


“Would you want one of them serving you a coffee at Tim Horton’s®?” ‐‐ unknown

“Would your hire one of them to serve coffee, if you ran a Tim Horton’s®‐‐ unknown

So just what is it they are supposed to do? Pull themselves up by their bootstraps? … to where, exactly?

Remember, Ontario Works support is insufficient for even a bachelor’s apartment.

Suicide should come as no surprise to anyone. Nor should withdrawal into the insidiousness of addiction - compounding the problem.

Why Poor People’s Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense

To be fair - in the end, it is truth that only you can help you. You have to be ready and willing to help yourself, and take advantage of the offers of help and the hands being held out to you.

Begs the questions though … how did our society manage to create the conditions by which you aren’t ready yet, and how do we create the conditions whereby you are able to get through this time until you are ready?

How do we get back to hope?


Which is all to say - it’s all about mental health. A medical issue.

Only government has the capacity or resources to deal with mental health - it involves all levels of government.

  • local housing intensification / zoning
  • Provincial Health
  • Federal Housing Strategy
  • Housing Cost (e.g. Ontario Works benefits doesn’t even cover the cost of a bachelor apartment, to get a decent night’s sleep, to be able to go out and look for work the next day. Assuming any medical issues have been, past tense, dealt with.)
  • Food Cost (even if there was anything left)

Being a volunteer, evening only program, nothing we can do. Except point you, the concerned, towards Community.

That’s a tough thing to say. Very hard. Sounds like giving up, or throwing our hands up. But being an evening program, when all the support services lie elsewhere, during ‘banker’s (non-evening) hours’, and thus unwilling to connect or participate with us during the times during which our programs run, we have no expertise to apply to this very complex societal deficiency, let alone to the specifics of each individual’s situation and unique needs. We at OOTC don’t have the ability or capacity to make a difference to the problem of homelessness - except through our advocacy. (And it’s a complicated world out there, with many needs. I envy no politician - trying to help get the best result from scarce resources. When everyone’s definition of ‘best’ is different. Two car garage with two incomes, high taxes, and small children, vs no safe, secure, and private place to lay one’s head down at night. Whom’s best is best?)

On the other hand, when you cross our threshhold, it doesn’t matter what happened on the other side of it, how or why you got there - it only matters that you did. You’re hungry, and tired, and it’s cold outside. Welcome. Come in. Take a load off. Rest. Have some supper, in a friendly environment, without judgement or preaching.

It’s a band aid. We know it’s a band aid. But our numbers demonstrate it’s a very necessary one. We wish we didn’t have any guests - but we do. Take our guests, please! Go ahead, put us out of business - we’ll help.

In the mean time, we hope tomorrow is just a bit better for you than today. And the next one. And the next one. If you can make it through to it. We’ll help you.

And if it doesn’t happen, and you need us again - we’re still here. And you’re always welcome. Doesn’t matter why, nor how many times you’ve been before - you’re cold and hungry and tired, right now. We’ll help.



Please let your local political representatives know of your concerns.

“If it was easy …we would have solved it” ‐‐ LM (HHUG)


* The real wonder is society’s apparent mutual fantasy (Wishful Thinking) that a magic wand will somehow appear out of thin air, to just be waved and somehow make it all better   - by themselves, and on their own.

What would you do if you lost your job, then your home, then your family …
- It’s just you. You are alone! Everyone else is occupied with their own lives.

‘course, most of us say, we would never allow things to get to that point.

No doubt they said the same.

Remember … by this point, you’d by on the far side of this unimaginable abyss. What you have today, friends, family, a roof over your head in your own space, food, would be but a distant memory. One you might possibly think of as some fantasy that happened to someone else, in some other lifetime.

“How did I get here!” Regardless of the answer … Here you be.


“My society is better than this!” ‐‐ BS

“There, but for the Grace of God, go I.” ‐‐ BS


So much cheaper, so much less grief, to never let it happen in the first place. If happiness begets happiness …

We cannot do it alone, or in isolation.

It’s not somebody else’s problem, it’s everyone’s problem. And we need everyone to step up and to put their own direct time into addressing it.

Please let your local political representatives know of your concerns. Work with like minded friends, neighbours, acquantances - let them know that a significant part of their constituency wants them to collectively work on it, harder.

March 20, 2017 • BS