Subsidized housing does not work.
Subsidized housing does not work.
What happens when the rules that we are asked to work by, are the same rules that keep our clients from moving forward. Sometimes these rule prevent our clients for getting healthy or even surviving?
Fine, we can’t run around breaking all the rule but if a rule is not in the best interest of society then are we not required to at least speak out against it?
If we keep doing the same thing then we will keep getting the same thing
“So, what happened??
“Well they were really loud and accusing and that’s just not acceptable behavior. “
“Well, you’re right, that would not be acceptable behavior for me or you in a 711, but for someone newly sober with a lot of other issues and in a detox centre, it might be”
Come on, start where the person is at. Make sure your expectations at the same level as your client and don’t expect more than they can give. For the most part I believe that it our job as social workers, (street outreach, addiction counselors etc.) to suck it up and tolerate a lot of shit. It is our job to bridge the gap between when the client is at and when they need to be. If someone is “acting out” then ask yourself, what can I do to support this person to get under control and learn some self management skills? (We are assuming that everyone is safe here, no weapons, or violence)
I fully accept that there are people who are going to try and suck you in, manipulate and generally suck the life out of you. I hope that one of the skills you have developed is the ability to tell the difference, it really isn’t that hard if you’re paying attention.
Before you go to work tomorrow ask yourself “Am I a social worker or a social enforcer? If you answered the latter, maybe call in sick and start looking for a new career.
In April the AISH program is set to raise the amount that someone is receiving form 1188.00$ to 1588.00$ This is great for people how have been living well below the poverty line for decades. (The same as those making minimum wage but they’re still well below that line, more on that later) 1188.00$ created a lot of challenges not the least of which was housing. It’s a challenge for the person to pay rents as high as 900.00$ on a one bedroom and it is a challenge for Social Workers and others working with people on AISH to help them find something affordable. Most of us go through the motions of applying for subsidized housing all of which have huge wait lists. We call our list of contacts, fish for potential solutions and hold are breath. While this is happening the person is either on the street or in the hospital (pdf). The cost of this is huge.
There are two realities here that we have to accept. One is old, there is not enough subsidized housing space. The second is new, people on AISH make enough money to afford (just) market rent in Calgary. Given the cost of keeping someone in hospital or for them to be on the street and now the client has the money, do we have an obligation to support them in finding market value housing? I realize that we are busy but is it reasonable to fill out an application and wait for a space that may never come?
I hear you, you’re saying “but Mr. Social Work, I don’t have time to do this, the client needs support, I don’t know how! You’re right and if you read back, no where did I say it would be easy. There are some clients that need support to be in the community and that’s a whole different conversation but there are a lot of client’s who simply need help finding an apartment and getting things set up.
My suggestion to you is to step up. You news to find a while to support or facilitate moving you clients into housing. Whether you work one to one to go through the ads and take the client to see and apply or you put on a workshop on unit or in the shelter. You can still have them apply for subsidized housing but you can’t stop there.
As a tax payer, I am really tired of paying for those lazy asses on welfare, you know, those lazy ass greedy corporations that suck corporate welfare dollars out of the tax base. We’re all familiar with the standard types of corporate welfare like when the government gives a company money for job creation. Just in case you’re not familiar with it, it works like this;
The government give a company money to create jobs.(it’s partnership right)
The company creates too full time jobs at $19,552.00 per year (They can’t pay more that that, I mean you have to think about the economy)
The balance is used to cover payroll costs and the company’s EI costs etc.
Two people now have jobs, the government’s job creation works yay!
Well sort of, couple of problems.
1. Minimum wages is not enough to eat, pay rent and utilities. So these workers need to access the food bank, subsidized housing, emergency dental and prescriptions or other services offered by our social safety net. (That thing capitalists hate paying for)
2. Once the money is gone, so are the jobs. A company is not in business to spend money on things like jobs if they can get the government to do it so if the government won’t renew the grant the jobs are gone.
3. The two employees are now on EI, and because of the grant, only the government and the employees contributed to EI not the company.
Our government contributes our tax dollars to corporate welfare then the social safety net makes it possible for the companies to pay a low wage. Why don’t we demand that companies pay a living wage and then maybe the cost of subsidizing housing and buying jobs would go down. There is a lot of crying wolf that costs will go up and everything will be unaffordable. But prices will only rise as much as the market will handle, it will level out maybe little higher but wages will be up and taxes will be down,
What the hell is wrong with asking companies to pay their own why rather than relying on government hand outs. Maybe that’s a little too socialist. the reality is that without a social safety net the capitalist system we have will collapse. It keeps the works strong enough to be ready to work when a company needs them but not strong enough to rise up and revolt when they realize the system doesn’t work. (An underfunded education system keep people from developing critical thinking skills that would allow people to figure this out.)
Have you ever had conversations with people who can’t seem to get past their beliefs about a situation? You hear things like, “we can’t do that” “they won’t let you” “They can’t afford it” I have to wonder if we believe things simply because they are the things we have always been told, when was the last time you challenge a long standing “truth”? How did it turn out?
Structural social work practice focuses on the structural or systemic cause of a person’s problems rather that on the person or their environment. In a course I took it was suggested that a structural focus was difficult in a generalist social worker’s daily practice. Do we focus on our client and what they can do now to improve the quality of their lives or do we focus on change the systems that is causing all of the grief. Although the goal of social work is to address both, there are only so many hours in the day and crisis crayons in the box.
We don’t recognize how much power we have to affect change. Or a better way to put it is we have a lot of power to prevent change. Every time we accept that something can’t be done or choose to not ask because we already know the answer we don’t take an opportunity to change things.
Example? Okay how bout this one. Housing. You’re a social worker on an inpatient unit in a hospital. You are doing discharge planning and this client will need a place to live. Let’s make it easy, they were living on their own before being admitted and the functional assessment has them reasonable independent. However they are on a fixed income of about 1188$ per month. (This is the amount paid to people on AISH in Alberta.) You know there is a 3000 person wait list for your city’s social housing program, the mental health housing program won’t take your client because they have used drugs or alcohol in the last 5 years and you know renting market value is too expensive.
Three myths. One, social housing wait list, yep, it’s pretty long. Have you done and application anyway? Did you call, is there any other programs run through them like rent supplements, or rapid exit that requires the application? The mental health housing, are you sure they won’t accept your client? Did you call and try to get an intake meeting?
Admittedly, these myths exist because they have been reinforced so many times. Maybe you won’t have a lot of luck but at least you can make a call, find out how it really is and maybe start building the relationships that can lead to change.
But that’s more like the structural social work but you really do need to focus on your client right now, discharge is approaching fast.
This leaves market value housing, this myth we can challenge maybe even bust. Yes, market value is expensive and your client is very low income, but so is anyone in Alberta working for minimum wage. Look at the options, a one bedroom apartment around 900$, a basement suite around 600$, a sketch below code basement “suite” around 600 to 700$ or shared accomidations for 400$ to 500$. Expensive but do able.
You might need to get out of your and your client’s way. Maybe they need some support in learning how to rent a place, Maybe the need a list of places to start or help getting a damage deposit. Either way they are getting discharged and what you offer them will decide whether or not they are housed or homeless.
Sesame Street has a new puppet. (no, not the happiest of all puppets) Follow the link if you want the story, it’s great that they are look at the realities of urban living, but that’s not the focus of this post.
This post is about the term “Food Insecurity“. When I first read the term I thought it was a joke. Maybe a politically correct way to say too poor to buy food. But it’s a real term, with a Wikipedia page and everything.
I asked another social worker what they thought when they heard the term. The thought long and hard and responded with, “well it implies that everything else is secure, like if you’re food insecure your hungry but can pay rent, buy clothing and have access to appropriate health care.
I was all set to mock the crap out of this whole concept but even though it’s a vague and silly term, it really does define the problem and set some clear measures for a solution. I think it is really important that it not only focuses on availability for on nutrition. Many Calgary Charities like the Food Bank offer food hampers to those in need. Others offer meals on a regular basis. However, most of these meals and hampers include almost no nutrition. Access is less relevant if it is access to crap.
My office is in a shelter, and in the common area that is used be the residents of the floor have common kitchen someone always puts out buns, sometimes sweet, sometimes savory, but always fast acting carbs. The theory my co-worker has is that you want the poor and hungry to have access to this kind of food. This way they scarf them down cause they’re hungry, then the have the energy to work for a short period of time. Then the have a sugar/fat crash and fall asleep before they realize they have just been exploited by a temp agency.
A capitalist society needs to keep it’s labour force hungry enough to compete for low wages, but fed enough to not rise up and rebel. I applaud Sesame Street for stepping up and teaching children that healthy food is a right.
With corporations lobbying hard to stop taxing bad food, stop labeling bad food and to misinform consumers, the more people need understand about nutrition and food. A good way to improve food security is to improve nutritional literacy.
Just like shopping at the Walmart down the street is not buying local, McDonalds extra value meal is not food security.
To be fair you can get a somewhat healthy meal if you are willing to line up and sell your soul.