Monday, April 13, 2009

Karen O'Shaughnessy Advises Giving Money to Panhandlers to Buy Beer or Drugs

On Friday, Karen O'Shaughnessy, Executive Director of the LookOut Shelter, was given the CKNW "Unsung Hero" award as part of the Pheonix Project for her work combatting homelessness.  There was no mention of the fact that O'Shaughnessy gets a regular big cheque for her work. It's easy to fight homelessness when you're well paid to do it.     

O'Shaughnessy and her staff do reportedly do a competent job running the LookOut shelter.  I know a guy who recently stayed at the LookOut for a couple of months.  His description of their anti bed bug strategy reminded me of Castro talking about the Kennedys.  They even put poison powder in his shoes.

CKNW's Christie Clarke interviewed O'Shaughnessy on her show on Good Friday and asked a good question:  When people on the street ask us for money, should we give it to them knowing that they may use it to buy "drugs or beer? Is that the right thing to  do?"  O'Shaughnessy responded with a firm, "Yes."  She added, "If they want to go spend it having a beer, then let them."  She admonished, "Let's not judge".

The same people come into local coffee shops month after month hounding and hounding and hounding customers -- even poor customers -- for money which I know for a fact is going to a crack dealer.  I see them buying crack just off Hastings.  One regular aggressive panhandler who always says "God Bless" to coffee shop customers who buy his line about being an orphan  and give him money, was recently yelling "Fuck Off!" to a driver who nearly hit him when he walked into the street after buying crack near Pigeon Park.   He cons and harasses people daily and gets high daily.  But Karen O'Shaughnessy doesn't want the public to judge. 

When it comes to what O'Shaughnessy and her staff have to put up with though, she does judge. Anyone who fails to act in a civil manner at the LookOut Shelter is not allowed to stay there. They're very strict.

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