Tag Archives: housing

as seen on tv


from as far back as i can remember my favorite chore around the house was sweeping. not sure why but sweeping always relaxed me and put me in a good mood. cleaning my room?

ha! yeah right.

not much as changed over the years. give me a broom and a ground full of dirt and i’m as happy as a pig in the mud. ok, maybe i’m overstating this a bit, but not by much.

i got to flex some of that sweeping muscle tonight at work.

we recently had to evict one of our clients at the rebuilding. my manager and all the staff worked hard with the client in order to keep him in the building but it just didn’t work out. unfortunately for the client that means (most likely) he will have to go stay at the men’s homeless shelter again.

it’s most regrettable. this building exists to give affordable housing to men who are harder to house than most, not make them homeless, but that’s exactly what happened.

one of the stipulations for living at the rebuilding is going through monthly apartment inspections. the apartments are fully furnished with a bed, couch, fridge and other furniture. a worker drops in once a month to make sure everything is still in good condition (except regular wear and tear) and that the living space is kept in a healthy way for the client.

the client we had to evict was a hoarder.

now, i’ve watched shows on tv before on hoarding but it’s a whole other thing to witness it in person.

walking through the door of the apartment a few weeks ago was a task in itself. stuff piled around the door made it hard for me to squeeze between the door and the door frame. the amount of stuff piled high along the walls, practically spilling over, made me nervous walking through the hallways. i reflexively used my hands as a makeshift hard hat in case anything fell. random items pulled from trash bins plastered on the walls and spilling out of the closets. clothes thrown everywhere and anywhere, hanging from doors, curtain rods and makeshift closets. more clothes than i’ve ever owned in my entire life.

because bed bugs have been a problem in our building (and really, the whole city), making sure our clients keep their apartments relatively clean is of paramount importance. their apartments don’t have to be spotless by any stretch, but they do have to keep them tidy.

interviews are being done down at the shelter this week to see who will be coming up and filling the vacant apartment. before that happens we have to clean it up. thankfully we were able to hire a local company to come and take most of the stuff out (i’m told 3 full pick up truck with trailer on the back loads!). that leaves the cleaning for us.

so with a broom and a dust pan in hand i attacked the apartment with some serious zeal.

it didn’t take long for it to hit me. the man who used to live where i was now sweeping had no home anymore. tonight when i leave work and walk home, i have an apartment to go to.

he doesn’t. not anymore.

one of the hardest things i’ve found about working with guys on the street is keeping them housed. whether it’s mental illness, conflict with landlords/neighbors, unwisely spending rent money on something else (like addictions), etc, there’s always a few problems that arise that make it hard to keep my friends adequately housed.

after all these years of working on the streets with people dealing with homelessness, i’m no closer to a solution than i was when i first started.

i’m frustrated and sad, puzzled and mad, wishing there were easier answers.

but i suppose life is not like that.

no easy answers here.


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death, where is your sting?

the past few days have been difficult. africa dying hit closer to home than i ever expected. his passing has me thinking about death more. no, not in the morbid sense. im not completely off my rocker yet. its got me thinking about life and the death of life. big picture stuff.

death isnt really the end. its a new beginning to the rest of your life. well, thats what i believe. i think we live forever and ever, somewhere. heaven, paradise, city of gold, kingdom of God, home.

i know atheists will probably scold me for saying such a thing, but i feel bad for atheists. i really do. genuine pity. if i understand atheism, and i think do, the logical conclusion of its philosophy is that there is no meaning, no purpose, no life after death. not only does nothing really matter nor any truth really exist, but when we die thats it.

what an awful thing to believe.

worm food. lights go out and they dont come back on.

i realize that this isnt an argument against atheism, because something being unfortunately terrible doesnt make it wrong, but it does make it terrible and something that offers very little hope for this life. no thanks, atheism.

id rather see and embrace the hope we have in the gospel. thanks, Jesus.

im going to leave it at that. for now.

i miss the dtes a lot right now. i havent missed it there this much since i first left. i wonder how so many people are doing. i wonder how aj is doing and if he has kicked his addiction. i wonder how elizabeth is doing and if she beat cancer. i wonder how daryl has been and if he has gone home to nunavut like he told me he needed to.

i wonder about many others and wonder when ill go back, if ever.

i hope to.

today i worked the door at hope cottage. eddie had taken the night off and andrew asked if i wanted the gig. no apron, greet everyone that entered the building and carry a clicker to count guests. its even better than it sounds.

cheque day was on wednesday so business is slow. the regulars are all there though and a few new faces. kenny comes in with rap blasting from his cell phone. a few heads in the room turn in his direction and he graciously turns it off as he grabs a tray. considerate member of the community.

skylar comes in for dinner late. he grabs some bread and dinner and comes to talk with me. he finally got an apartment! i congratulate him and we high five.

high fiving is a great celebratory gesture on the streets. i quite enjoy it.

skylar was a youth that was living at the shelter when i worked there. i got to know him there and when he came out to play street soccer for a while. smart cree kid, very athletic, advocate for others, but with a bit of a temper.

he has had housing for just over a month. he moved in just before christmas. good gift from santa, id say. already its helping him. he is taking his addictions more seriously and doing what he needs to do to be healthy. hes staying out of trouble which means the police arent harassing him.. as much.

i couldnt be happier for him!

we talk school and where things are at with that. school is next on his list of things to do but he feels lost. hes not sure where to go from here. i agree to help him figure that out. hes too smart and gifted not to get his high school diploma and give himself a better chance at life. he agrees. he promises to come out for street soccer this sunday and bring his sudanese roommate who loves playing soccer with him.

i hear they start playing soccer in the womb over there. i expect this guy to be good.

skylars big success has me hopeful. even in the midst of death, grief and sadness, theres a lot to be hopeful for. hope for at-risk youth getting housed and educated. hope for my other friends on the street rising up out of poverty. hope for me seeing my friend, africa again (and all the others) on the other side.

bye, grief. hello, hope.

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