VBOT “Street to Home” Luncheon

Special guest speaker Philip Magano with Street to Home president Jae Kim

Former VBOT chair (and motorcycle enthusiast) Jeff Dowle

VBOT’s own Darcy Rezac Managing Director & Chief Engagement Officer

Susan Papadionissiou, Sue Noga of United Way and associate

Vancouver City Manager Dr. Penny Ballem (r) with YWCA CEO Janet Austin

Jeff Goldberg of Gratitude Week and Danae Johnson of Thinking Partners

Kingswood Capital’s Lorne Segal with Hillary Kilgour.

Joseph MacLean of DTES.org

CEO of DJ Design Ms. Debra O’Neil

Vancouver Native Housing Society Exec. Dir. David Eddy (l) with Councilor Susan Anton and Simon Davie of Terra Housing

Former Premier Mike Harcourt with Terry Hui of Concord Pacific

Della Smith, owner of Quay Strategies Inc.

Dave Macsonald of WPCG with blogger, PhD & bon vivant Raul Pacheco

Event: 122nd Vancouver Board of Trade Annual General Meeting
Setting: Wall Center (July 16, 2009)
Critique: Neither here nor there

Street to Home is a community foundation that operates to establish safe, affordable housing to the homeless of Vancouver by 2015. On July 16th, Street to Home hosted Philip Mangano, the former executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. On his visit to VBOT where he shared his experiences of the American homeless epidemic and it’s repercussions on the economy.

* * *

I know someone who’s homeless.

I met Paul (not his real name) through a friend. One mid-November evening we found him in a doorway on Denman Street, tucked in for the night. My friend was shocked. They had fallen out of touch but she’d heard rumors about his suddenly erratic behavior and the violent episodes that typify the onset of schizophrenia – a cruel twist of fate, as Paul worked as a psychiatric nurse at Riverview Hospital.

Inevitably, Paul lost his job. His knowledge of this province’s medical services only fueled his delusions about plots against him. Paul refused to take medication. That winter my friend took an interest in Paul, and as I got to know him, we learned about the resources available to the homeless of Vancouver.

The few shelters available are dangerous and filthy and it’s commonplace for homeless to commit petty crimes so that they’ll get sent to jail – i.e., out of the cold – for a few nights. Paul had done this himself.  One rainy night we tried to find him a bed. We called everywhere, even tried to get him (grudgingly) committed. Nothing. Everything was full. A million dollars a day in funding goes into the D.T.E.S. and that, other than a sudden spike in .org registry, I can’t see what there is to show for it.

These organizations mean well and I like Street to Home’s pronounced fiscal responsibility. Knowing what I know about Paul, his family and his associates, improving the situation is extremely difficult work. Street to Home’s giving itself five years to provide decent housing for the homeless of Vancouver is an ambitious goal. I don’t know how they are going to pull it off, but I hope they do. We need them to.