I have heard and seen enough of the public treating this topic in such hatred and unkindness so I thought I would write this to better educate the public and put the facts right out on the table.

I will start with homelessness in Grey County. First of all when I hear people say, "that person, those people..." choose to be homeless is a complete hatred LIE! No one ever asks to be homeless. Yes, there are a few of people that choose to be outside because of their own personal reasons... Maybe addiction or untreated mental health? Maybe living outside is better living arrangements then they had before? People need to stop assuming and hating and start asking the right questions. Ask yourself: would you enjoy sleeping outside in a tent or a bush with no heater, no cell phone, no food, or no property because of theft or poverty? Would you like to see your children or relatives sleeping outside? I say NO.

Our homeless population is because municipal, provincial, and federal levels are cutting back budgets that provide geared-to-income housing, transitional housing, homeless shelters, and nobody likes to hear the word HOMELESS. I was a previous homeless person, I didn't have anywhere to go, nobody I could call for help, and I was stuck because the system failed me. The system is still failing me and people need to be aware that the system can't cure everyone and every situation.

Second, let's bridge off into addiction. Everyone has their own opinions on addiction. I will keep my opinion within my personal experience and profession experience separate. During my times of being a severe addict to methamphetamine, I lost total control of my body, I didn't think anyone cared about me and I had no knowledge of resources and was hanging around really bad people. I use to steal, fight, do whatever I could to obtain my addiction.

Addiction commitment is the same as marriage commitment. You get into a behaviour and a mindset that the addiction is the only thing that matters, and that's all you're going to do and think about on a daily basis and most of the addictive substances make it where you can't function without the substance. Our opiate crisis isn't because people enjoy smoking a drug that kills them after using nor does mostly any addict I speak to enjoy their addictions after a long period of time. Most of the opiate addiction cases are caused by prescribed opiates and got cut off the prescription without proper care and resources. Then the people look to the streets to feed that terrible feeling that it is life or death before doing the substance. Our meth and fentanyl problem is so bad because it is the easiest drug to obtain on our streets and so many people are on it. What we need to do about addiction is stop making a judgment before making a plan to combat these issues. How is someone going to get away from a substance without something or someone showing them that their life will be a lot more satisfying sober? If these people feel like no one is there to help them and care about them they are not going to want help. They don't want to hear from textbook 'professionals', they want help from lived or living experience professionals! Our society would be better off if we all came together to help the homeless, addicts, and the untreated mental health people. If nobody wants to talk about it with some self-respect and make hatred comments that only makes you look ridiculous and uneducated. You never speak about other human beings like you're something better because we all are the same just different DNA, life choices, and situations.

Addiction is an issue in Grey County for many reasons. Owen Sound will soon have three methadone clinics and even though I have different views on the program I believe that if the doctors did what the program was intended and got people off the program then we wouldn't need three clinics. Grey County's detox centre won't take people if they don't have a place to go after treatment so that leaves our homeless population at serious risk. Detox should be for anyone and for every addiction-related situation. Not for the few that they feel are right for their centre. Addiction counselling in Grey County has a three-month wait list, because of so many people requiring it, so it looks like we need more agencies or more staff within that sector. How many of our population have to die of drug overdose or long term use of substances before people do something about it?

The homeless issue in Grey County has a few issues within itself. Some don't want help, housing has a three-year wait list because there aren't enough units because: people living in units that no longer qualify, qualification requirements don't meet the person (single person can't move into a two bedroom) and budgets. The Ontario government has cut Grey County Housings budget so I don't blame them for pausing on the situation because they can't build without the money to pay for it. We need affordable and geared to income housing NOW, not two years, not six months, NOW! Winter is coming and what we are going to see happen is someone is going to die of freezing outside and then people will start doing something about it.

People are homeless, people are starving, and people are stuck. It is our obligation as a society to do something about it, stop talking about it and do something. These poor individuals lives are at risk!

Please from a previous homeless person and addict please consider donating and advocating.

Yours truly,

Jacob Morris-Wheeler

Child and Youth Worker, Owen Sound

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