Goodreads Review

Posted: September 2, 2014 in Uncategorized
Joseph‘s review

Sep 01, 14

bookshelves: canada, society

Read from August 10 to 17, 2014

 

GOTTA FIND A HOME by Dennis Cardiff
Book Review by Joseph Spuckler

Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People by Dennis Cardiff is a unique look at the situation in Toronto. Cardiff is not from the expected background for this work. He is not a sociologist, but a poet and an artist and like many people has had his close call to losing everything.

What makes Gotta Find a Home different from all other books on homelessness is that is not a study on the how and why of homelessness. It is also not investigative journalism trying to create sensationalism rather than finding a solution. It, perhaps most importantly, is not political and does not assign blame. It is a work based off of friendship and trust.

Cardiff records the day to day conversations he has with the local street people. Some people have stories of great woe or loss, but those are quickly replaced with conversations that seem rather typical of most people. The talk centers around what most people talk about. Talk and concern over friends, money, rent, food, and perhaps more than the usual amount of talk about alcohol. Cardiff has work his way into the group and is not seen as an easy mark for money. He will buy coffee and for Joy, breakfast. He offers bus passes and encouragement and will not buy alcohol for anyone.

The reader will learn about the homeless community and the social order and rules of the community. Most know each other well and know who can be trusted. They watch out as a group for the police, their biggest security concern. No one wants to get ticketed (even though they can’t pay the fine) or arrested. It is not crime, but loitering and drinking in public that are the major concerns. Business owners treat people differently. Some business are tolerant other have security run people off.

Homelessness does not necessarily mean sleeping on the streets. Many find shelters and others share apartments with many other people. No dwelling is considered more than temporary. There is also some squatting on public and private property.

Cardiff puts a personal face on the street people. They are not the just people in the way. The book made me wonder why people would choose to remain homeless. I don’t recall any mention, save one, of someone who said I am going to end this and re-enter “society.” There was no argument of I want to work, but I cannot get hired. There is alcoholism, but our society has plenty of functional alcoholics in every level of employment. I do not believe the argument that homeless people want to be homeless. Canada and the United States seem to share this same problem. Government and charity programs seem to treat the symptoms but not the cause. They seem to make life more bearable, but do not fix the problem. Cardiff’s personal look at the individuals in an honest way may provide the understanding that will lead to meaningful change.

Joseph Spuckler gives 5 Stars to Gotta Find a Home: Conversations with Street People

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