Neighbour counters resident’s opposition to St. Paul’s-Eastern respite centre
The concerns outlined last issue [Dec-Jan] by a Besserer [Street] resident, that the recently opened St. Paul’s-Eastern Respite Centre on Cumberland might “damage the lives of residents, students, business owners and workers,” should give Sandy Hill residents pause.
The argument that St. Paul’s might bring more “emotionally fraught, drug- addicted” people into Sandy Hill, raising crime rates, vandalism, and property break-ins, harkens back to the irrational fears that were rampant during the Great Depression. Then, in Ontario’s most fashionable neighbourhoods, city bylaws restricted the operation of boarding houses in private residences. As thousands of homeless men roamed the cities, concerned neighbours, worried over the influx of “strangers” renting cheap rooms in their desirable neighbourhoods, wrote their respective Ratepayers’ Associations, arguing that crime and havoc would soon follow. The concerns particular to Sandy Hill are equally about the city’s homeless, and, almost a century later, amount to the same thing. Conflating the homeless or drug-addicted with criminality and violence is dangerous and inaccurate. Moreover, those hoping that our area’s most vulnerable will simply build better lives ought to reflect on how it might be done. And who will stand in their corner?
Those who need respite at this incredibly difficult time need our empathy and compassion, now more than ever.
Laurier Avenue East