by Hani Kaddah
Lately, the bar of choice for me and my friends has been Sports Station. Times are hard and we’re forever thankful for the cheap beer they offer. The bar is located on St.-Catherine, just a few blocks east of Dawson. Having spent a lot of years around the Atwater-Guy Concordia area, I’ve noticed that the number of homeless people has grown. In the vicinity of the AMC, there’s a block that has been completely abandoned by storeowners, restaurants, and grocery shops. This desolate part of St.-Catherine attracts many homeless people who find shelter and squat in the abandoned buildings. Stepping out in that area at one A.M., you see at least three hobos per block, begging for money or chugging their 40s. As the night wears on, more homeless people appear, unable to walk straight or speak coherently.
Because of the growing numbers of homeless people, the area is quickly deteriorating. One night, I was walking home when a homeless man stopped me and asked for my lighter. I gave it to him, and what I saw next opened my eyes to the harsh reality of many people in the area: He took out his pipe and smoked crack. I was so shocked by what was happening that I didn’t take my own lighter back and just walked away.
What bothers me the most, however, is that there are homeless women who prostitute themselves in the area. Imagine! Right behind Dawson, women prostituting themselves at night. I know this because a woman offered me her services, and when I refused, a man standing next to her offered to sell me drugs. Call me naïve, I’ve always known prostitution has existed in urban areas – but it disturbed me to actually see it. The women involved in prostitution are a direct consequence of their dependency on crack. The people who sell them crack are clearly not homeless, but have caused the majority of the homeless people to become addicted to it so that many have to prostitute themselves so they can chase a high.
Violence is also a reoccurring event. I was once waiting around for a friend when a man and a woman, who were obviously homeless, began screaming at one another. It soon got heated, and the woman began swinging her fists at the man. The man ended up overpowering her, and called her all the vulgar words you can think of. Let me stress that while this was happening, no one stopped or took any notice; instead they walked right by. I was one of the few who stopped to watch, maybe because I was waiting for my friend, yet, I was unable to think of anything to do to stop it. The area is becoming worse and worse. The high concentration of homeless people has had many negative impacts: Violence, drugs, and prostitution are evident everywhere when walking in the vicinity. It’s hard to believe that all this is happening just outside the gates of our college.