Begging for attention
Barry Artiste, Now Public Contributor
I suppose what begs attention is in a Red Hot economy, where jobs are plentiful, why some choose not to work period, and why the working poor cannot get affordable housing in the Nations Capital? The minimum wage working poor that pour your morning coffee,McJobs, wash your car, and pack your groceries seem to be at the bottom of the wage food chain and without them businesses would perish.
My Final Thought
DTES feels hard pressed, but are lucky by comparison. East Coast working poor have brutally cold winters to contend with along with the added expense of winter clothing and for some in housing, higher heating costs.
They lunched and napped under the mayor's office window last week.
Now, Ottawa's homeless community will host a beg-a-thon in front of City Hall.
"We're gonna get people to set up anywhere between Somerset and Laurier on both sides of the road," said activist Jane Scharf, who has been camped outside City Hall in protest since July 1.
"We'll have people doing squeegee and flying signs on the median ... we're also thinking of doing squeegee of (Mayor Larry O'Brien's) windows."
The beg-a-thon, scheduled for Aug. 15, comes on the heels of a lunch for the homeless where over 70 people ate and slept under O'Brien's window last Wednesday.
It coincided with O'Brien's summit on transportation, which was attended by 20 other mayors from Eastern Ontario and the Outaouais.
"(O'Brien) didn't come out, of course," says Scharf, who is demanding O'Brien's resignation unless a list of demands are met.
"We did see him come out that day and he was very angry," she said.
"Usually he openly says hi to us," says Scharf, "but he was glaring when he came out on Wednesday."
However, Scharf says she has talked to O'Brien on a couple of occasions -- one of which was a 10-minute conversation in mid-July to discuss her concerns.
He made no commitments and then had a more formal meeting a few days later with Coun. Eli El-Chantiry and Coun. Marianne Wilkinson in attendance, said Scharf.
"We basically played-out our position and he answered that he would be willing to retract his statements about the pigeons and seagulls and say that it was regrettable if we would be willing to pack up and leave," Scharf said. "It was too little too late."
Along with an apology, Scharf and her group are looking for a modification or cancellation of the Union Mission's Hostels to Homes program.
Scharf said the program, which aims to find public housing for the homeless, does not work.
"It's brought the tensions back severely between the staff and the residents at the mission again," she said. "They're coming from a lot of trauma and each individual needs an individual plan to address their needs." [/q]