Quite a few years back the Ontario Government decided to close down 555 Queen St. Today it is, and the other buildings on its block, high priced commercial property. It started out an Insane asylum and then a mental hospital. Eventually, the government closed it, put low functioning adults out onto the streets and the non functioning into other more general hospitals with specially designed wards.
When Bob Rae, (admitted socialist and NDP), was Premier of Ontario they hired a bunch of social workers to go to all the mental wards in the province telling the mentally ill they were not legally required to take their medication and they didn't have to stay at the hospital. Of course that caused a lot of confusion and more low functioning adults entered the streets.
Vagrancy was not permitted in Ontario when I was a kid, but obviously that had to change to allow for all these people to live on the streets. Not only did we now have the occasional drunk sleeping it off in the park and a couple of drug addicts, but now we had all the crazies joining them. Today they are collectively, and affectionately known as the "homeless".
Pseudo government agencies needed to be set up, social workers hired, charity organizations formed to provide beds and food for all these people as the problem grew bigger and bigger. After a few years all the supports systems were in place so people could live on the street. The homeless rate again increased as homeless people traveled from less supportive areas of the country and from abroad. Many substance abusive natives traveled to major cities as they heard the pickings were good. The problem grew again and more social workers had to be hired, more pseudo government agencies put into place and more charities and beds for the homeless were created.
Ottawa City Council is mostly composed of socialist thinking people and as such feel an obligation to help solve the homeless problem. They decided it would be a great idea to hand out free needles to all the drug addicts to avoid sharing of needles and infection. Drug addicts used to guard their needles with their lives, so sharing them was not something they easily did. Getting another one from a pharmacy wasn't easy if you looked like a drug addict, so they tended to keep a short leash on those drug delivery systems. Now the drug addicted homeless throw those needles around like they are candy wrappers. Clean up crews, composed of social workers and some upset mothers have to pick them up from school yards and neighborhood parks. After they must be properly disposed of because now they are bio-hazard. So as concerned mothers are cleaning up this mess, the friendly city health officer is personally delivering fresh clean needles to all the drug addicted homeless. Brilliant!
Now here is the Ryan and the hobo making factory part. There are always some homeless people with signs out at major intersections. I saw one that said, " homeless, jobless, give what you can please". So I pulled up to him, offered him a job, thinking there is no way he would accept, but I did need some help on a large commercial contract, and his vulgar appearance was not a concern. He accepted, asked if I could give his friend a job too, and I hired two homeless men.
They worked out OK as long as I kept my eye on them and the job was completed without incident. One night I bought some pizza for the crew, Ryan was a vegetarian, so I ordered one veggy pizza. Tell me how is it even possible for someone who lives on the street to be a vegetarian? You're starving and you would say no to a peperoni pizza. This was one of those things that "just don't add up".
So I sit down with him and start asking questions about his lifestyle choice and believe me when I say choice. Ryan was not a dumb young man, he was actually really smart.
He told me the life he was living was an adventure to him, the romanticized life of the hobo traveling in box cars. In fact he traveled all around North America by jumping on trains. He has a girlfriend who at the time was pregnant. There is a social structure in most cities for these wandering hobos, with the toughest smartest hobos making up the rules. The stronger healthiest hobos beat on the weaker low functioning and drugged up homeless for their possessions.
Ottawa is the big sister city to Hull which is on the Quebec side. Ryan and his Girlfriend rented a room there for twenty five dollars a week. These houses are the worse houses Hull has to offer, they are divided up into small rooms, each room being rented out to the "homeless" on the Ontario side and Quebec welfare recipient on the Quebec side. The owner or manager of these run down shanties are the only ones that answer the phone. This provides a convenient communication device while keeping a low profile. The few times I called Ryan only the manager answered and pass the message to Ryan. He then would call me from a public telephone.
Apparently, there are hundreds of these so called homeless living this way in Ottawa. They get an address in Quebec, receive a cheque, then go to Ottawa to get all the freebies. Ryan and his wife rarely bathe because it is a dead give away you are not really homeless. He also told me it can be a defense especially for his girlfriend since no one but him can stand her stench.
He told me, after the baby is born they will apply for an apartment with Ottawa Housing, this is possible because at the time there was no cross referencing between provinces. He knew he would get one fast, because, "all them stupid social workers",as he put it, have been getting on their case to give the baby a safe environment.
Once they are all set up with new furniture, appliances and some food money, they sell everything they can in the apartment have a big party and move to a new city taking advantage of "stupid" social workers down the road. Through their social networks reports of easy opportunities are quickly communicated.
A few years later I did a renovation for an overtly socialist customer. They are easy to recognize.They live in an old houses in the Glebe, ride their bikes to work, wear Birkenstock sandals, large reserves of granola and the women never color their hair.
I told her about Ryan and his chosen lifestyle and something I haven't mentioned yet, his mother lived in a rich neighborhood in Ottawa and he could go there when ever he liked.
A few weeks later I heard a news report over the radio that mentioned her name. She had been fired from the the position of president of the Ottawa Homeless Association. The board unanimously voted her out due to actions not in accordance with board policy. I wonder if it was my story she was investigating and ruffled some socialist feathers?
The problem is still growing today in Ottawa. The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result. I have to wonder about the higher functioning adults that were released from 555 Queen St., did they all get hired as social workers?