Mayor Mandel and homelessness

Meandering through some old news leads I came across a Todd Babiuk article. I needed to pass along his observation:

Those who devote their lives to treating the untreatable, at the Bissell Centre and the Hope Mission and elsewhere, are saints. Incomprehensible saints.

The column also makes some good points about the politics of homelessness. I’ve been around long enough, and I’ve worked in the inner-city long enough to remember a succession of mayors.

mandel&JanelleIn 1983, when I began volunteering at Hope Mission, Lawrence Decor was elected to his first term. He was a good man, a revitalization man, but not overly concerned with homelessness–an issue that was still on the periphery.

(picture left: Mayor Mandel presents a plaque to the Mission’s Janelle Aker-Johnson, declaring a "Hope Mission Day.")

Jan Riemer followed. (Terry Cavanagh was installed for a year after Decore stepped away, just to sign stuff and keep the office warm.) Jan R. came up to bat while the economy was spit-balling and was finally fouled out by Ed-biz. But she had a heart for our city’s disquieted-dispossessed. And she spoke her heart to the annoyance of all the tall buildings.

Then we swung over to booster Bill Smith. Bill was a nice man, helped the Eskimos win a cup a long time ago. He was a lip service kind of guy who liked his Jeep Cherokee and "Mayor Bill" license plate. To his credit, he raised the profile of Edmonton.

Stage left–enter Mayor Mandel. The right mayor for the right time. The "homelessness issue" needs addressing. And an address, it’s receiving. Municipally at least, the ice is melting.

Thank you Todd Babiuk for your article.

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