Tag Archives: social services

(989) Aging in place, kinda winging it

station wagon” …car-centric suburban neighbourhoods with multi-level homes and scarce sidewalks are a poor match for people who can’t climb stairs or drive a car.”
Here’s a feature that profiles a boomer-age man in a subdivision dating from what appears to date to the 1970s through 1990s.  Like millions of other people in the United States and Canada his mind is turning to the latter stages of life when such things as income and mobility go into decline as health and social services needs go up.  Such a great turning is bound to influence our communities in every possible way.  Some thought and planning has gone into this realigning of things but we get the feeling it isn’t yet enough.  This item does a very nice job of setting out the basic proposition with a brace of statistics and writerly turns of phrase.  Recommended reading.
Many boomers in denial over problems they face growing old in suburbs

(421) Let it snow

Montreal in the snowCommon sense warns us that winter can add an oppressive layer to social difficulty.  The design of our communities and their services gives us the opportunity to respond to this danger.

In Stockholm, a proposal to make snow plowing priorities better for women
Atlantic Cities

Extreme cold forces TTC to take streetcars out of service. Toronto will be down 50 streetcars just in time for rush hour
Torontoist blog

Time for Toronto to embrace winter in the city
Toronto Star

Walkable winter cities when the weather is frightful!

image: New City Gas Company in Montreal by Gates of Ale via Wikimedia Commons

(382) Switzerland holding referendum on basic guaranteed income

Switzerland.svgThe idea that an advanced industrial country will soon hold a national referendum on whether or not to make available to all adults a guaranteed  basic minimum income is absolutely fantastic.

What a role model for Canada!  Imagine knowing that you and your neighbours would never fall below a certain minimum standard of living ever again.  Imagine powerfully bolstering this society against precarious employment, downward mobility, food insecurity, social exclusion, austerity and crime while making it physically healthier and happier.  You know, sometimes there are magic bullets and some problems can be solved by throwing money at them.

Concern over inequality seems to have allowed Swiss activists to force a referendum on the basic guaranteed income which would be the equivalent of nearly three thousand Canadian dollars a month.  This is dramatic stuff: 120,000 signatures were quickly collected for  the petition required to secure the referendum, backed up by the emptying of a twelve-wheeled dump truck full of five cent coins in front of the Swiss parliament in Bern.  There were enough coins to represent each of Switzerland’s eight million people.  The date for the referendum has not been set but it follows legislation driven by public anger earlier this year that caps executive compensation.  Wow!  This is a very serious contrast to shut-down America, cut-back Britain and a Canada still deeply in the throes of failed neoconservative policy.  We bet many Canadians have no ability even to imagine this kind of prosperity and security.

Swiss vote for sweet minimum monthly wage: $2800
RT.com – see pictures of coin demonstration

(369) Toronto priority neighbourhood review

priority neighbourhoods screen captureNearly a decade ago Toronto established a set of priority neighbourhoods to focus efforts at reducing social difficulty.  By-and-large the establishment of priority neighbourhoods has been seen as a good thing.  The time has come to re-examine the list and see what kinds of adjustments are to be made.  Every one of the priority neighbourhoods is located in what you can fairly describe as a suburb.  Only two-and-one-third of the designated areas  are south of Highway 401 or west of Highway 404. The outcome of the analysis the United Way and city officials generate will tell us a lot about suburban poverty in Canada’s largest city.  More importantly it tells us what will be done about it.

City eyeing new needy areas for “priority” list: millions of dollars at stake for neighbourhoods  Toronto Star

(343) Dropping in on Buffalo

Old_Post_Office_Buffalo_NY_BuffaloShort features in response to the Brookings Institution’s new book Confronting Suburban Poverty have been accumulating steadily from all over America.  This is one from just across the Canadian border in Buffalo, NY and it features a visit to a drop in centre.

Drop in centres provide court quality evidence of the existence of suburban poverty should anyone happen to need it.  They are usually informal, volunteer- and donation-driven places where people exiting the middle class often have their first encounter with the realities of downward mobility.  Located in ad hoc premises most of the time and frequently sponsored by religious organizations with or without a bit of official help they have formed a major component of many a community response to suburban poverty.  They can be fairly powerful places despite their challenges.

Coffee-and-carbs, water and juice are usually on offer and there are efforts made at helping out with used clothing, food, bus tickets, footwear, meals, diapers, school supplies, household items.  Referrals and all kinds of advice are their stock-in-trade.  Drop in centres sometimes don’t look like much but when well run they can attract a surprising array of helpers and donations: everything from a no longer needed suit for a job interview to pizza leftover from a corporate meeting.  Before long a good drop in centre becomes a focal point for a number of practical relationships and associations directly responding to immediate needs.

It can be stressful trying to maintain consistent levels of help to a large group of people in difficulty.  Boundaries are challenged constantly, but amazing things happen in the drop ins and positive anecdotes grow fast, at times by the day.  In moving past describing suburban poverty to relieving suburban poverty there could be worse things to do than strengthen the drop in centres.

Suburban poverty on the rise: poverty has crept beyond urban core
Buffalo News

image: post office building in Buffalo, NY by Pubdog via Wikimedia Commons