From the album Places
A little bonus for you this month as there’s an accompanying video. Not long ago I was asked by BC housing to write a piece that addresses the crisis we’re facing. I didn’t just want to write a piece that talks about why being homeless is difficult, but to address some of the reasons why we’ve arrived where we are. When people think of the homeless many of them believe that drugs and addiction are the only reason they end up without a place to live, but there are many reasons a person can lose their home. Somewhere along the way the world started to see housing as an investment opportunity rather than a fundamental human right. Now we have homes that sit empty while the population of people with nowhere to go continues to rise. A few months ago I was doing a residency and a workshop in Vancouver at HCMA, as part of it I did a small Q and A along with a reading of this poem. Mark Busse and Inder Nirwan took the lead on putting this video together and I hope you’ll find space to share it with people. It’s a personal subject for me. I was lucky. I found community in Vancouver early on, and when I found myself struggling to make ends meet I had that safety net there to catch me. This is not to say I haven't spent more than a few scattered nights trying to wait out the dark inside of a 24 hour restaurant, or thinking if I could just hold myself a little tighter the cold wouldn't be so bad. It doesn't take more than a few days on the street to reach a tipping point in your mental health. When homelessness becomes a reality for someone, and when that reality really sinks in... it can feel as final as a coffin nail. It can wipe away hope from the blackboard, and it can whisper surrender to our fight so often that it can feel like giving up was our idea all along. As housing becomes a more prevalent issue for all let's remember that compassion is a better cure than indifference.