I’m sure you’ve seen the guy who sits in front of the garbage cans at Guy-Concordia metro, with his “Kindness is not a weakness” sign leaning next to him and a perpetually empty Tim Horton’s cup at his feet. He’s there everyday, quietly asking for change or a meal.
Around Remembrance Day, another man appeared in the metro station to collect donations and give out poppies. In a surprising twist, the people who never before had change in their pockets for the man begging everyday were able to produce quarters and loonies for the poppies.
Most people rarely give money to panhandlers and are uncomfortable having homeless people loitering in public places. When fewer homeless people are visible, we don’t ask questions about where they went—we are just relieved the metro station is a little calmer. So it’s not a surprise to me that Montreal has anti-homeless infrastructure, because it teaches us that homelessness is best kept out of sight and out of mind. But problems don’t go away by ignoring them.