To: All Staff
From: Peter Rozeluk, Executive Director
Date: November 14, 2014
Re: People Helping People News Articles
You may have seen many articles written about People Helping People (PHP) in recent issues of the London Free Press (LFP), including an article about social service agencies that knew about the problem but failed to act.
At this point, Mission Services of London has not been mentioned as one of the “fail agencies” in the LFP coverage. Although we were mentioned in a Saturday LFP article as an agency that the deceased David MacPherson had stayed at prior to him moving to People Helping People, we were not mentioned in the November 11 article that named nine agencies and their relationship with Keith Charles, and People Helping People.
I did not receive any phone calls from the LFP, nor am I aware of any staff being contacted by the LFP for their stories.
For your information:
From the Men’s Mission (MM) side, it is unlikely that our database would capture entries as specific as referrals to People Helping People (PHP), but anecdotally, MM does not refer to PHP.
On the CMHP side, we have never referred to PHP.
I can tell you that in the last couple of years I have been at various meetings where several agencies indicated they had knowledge of apparently poor and unsafe conditions in the units leased by PHP and the lack of support given to residents, and that those agencies were not referring to PHP. However, there was an impression that Regional Mental Health continued to refer to PHP, although I did not and do not have any direct first-hand knowledge that this was or is the case.
I can also tell you that the deceased, David MacPherson was a client of both MM and CMHP at various times. (Staff at both MM and CMHP would be aware of this. However, this is internal Mission Services of London information, and not public information, for client confidentiality reasons.)
On a much more personal note, Martha has known David MacPherson, the individual who died, for 40 years. He in fact was a member of Martha’s extended family. David was a cousin of Martha’s husband and over the years Martha has personally advocated for health care for David. Please join me in extending condolences to Martha.
The topic of People Helping People has come up at a recent shelter operators meeting, and we did discuss what steps we collectively could take to track, share and report information in similar situations.
The tragedy highlights the complexity of providing housing and support, and how many issues are intertwined and related. Before you make any judgements, I encourage you to remember that there are always many sides to a story and perspectives and all of those sides are not always given the same amount of space or even mentioned in a newspaper article. One complicating factor with the PHP situation is that PHP does not own the buildings it uses, so addressing any potential building code violations, for example, is not necessarily a straightforward matter to resolve.
I hope that this update has been helpful to provide some background, to let you know that we as an agency have not yet received any press, and that the story is not over. Critical issues around safe housing will continue to be a concern, as long as there is poverty and as long as there are individuals and families that face homelessness.