Sunday, October 22, 2006

Chapter 9: Union Station

In case you are wonderin' what is going on with this here.

In chapter 9 Joe Fiorito investigates Toronto's Seaton House. Seaton House is a homeless shelter for men located near downtown Toronto. The homeless that attend this shelter usually have lost their jobs, have an alchohol addiction, and/or are mentally unstable.

Heres the question I have always had about my experience between Toronto and New York City: Why are the homeless more noticeable in Downtown Toronto as opposed to Manhatten Island?

I have several theories for this:

1. New York City has quite a few subway lines that operate twenty four hours a day. New York's Subway system provides the homeless great spots to curl up in warm and dry locations in trains, passages stairwells and stations for the day and night. Heck, even the homeless advocates go from train car to train car handing out free sandwiches and other nutritious meals.

Whereas Toronto's subway system shuts down around one or two in the morning which means the homeless are forced out onto the streets as the trains go out of service for the evening. So the homeless would rather lay on heating grates an sleep

2. The New York City Police Department (NYPD) enforces the loitering laws far better than Toronto's Police force. This is particularly true considering that the homeless in Toronto can be found throughout the downtown sprawled out on street corners or begging for spare change. Whereas, in New York City, the homeless are barely seen and if they are seen, you can bet they are not sitting around begging for change. Perhaps this is because New York's finest ensure the sidewalks are not obstructed by anything or anyone.

3. Better housing services are offered by the New York City than Toronto. I have no proof on this one, but the fewer homeless on Manhatten's streets would indicate there are fewer homeless. Manhatten, considered the "downtown" of New York City would theoretically have more homeless in this city of over ten million than Downtown Toronto would with a population of just over 2 million. Yet I can find more homeless in Downtown Toronto than in my extensive adventures throughout Manhattan. Could this be because the homeless in New York city are routed towards programs that encourage them to find "geared to income housing" and away from the street corner?

These are just theories of why I believe the homeless are more noticable in Toronto than New York City.

I'd like to finish up with an anecdote though. When I was going to the University of Ottawa, I used to walk over the Mackenzie King Bridge behind the Rideau Centre there was always a pandhandler. This spot, you would think would be a prime location for a person down on his luck to gain quite a few sheckles in order to purchase some food and clothing. Or you would think shyster could do pretty well here if he played the part. Well, there was a shyster playing the part. Except the shyster had one problem: Why would a homeless person down on his luck have a brand spanking new leather jacket and winter toque on?

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