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Compassion as a Response to Homelessness

In February 2021, Toronto Life published Tim MacFarlane’s story, which detailed his experience as frontline worker living in his car. Tim MacFarlane is a registered pharmacy technician who makes $63,000 a year––so how does someone like Tim become homeless? After deductions, taxes, union dues, and child support, Tim only brings home $2,000 a month, which, after subtracting his basic living expenses, makes renting an apartment nearly impossible.


While the circumstances that surround Tim’s story are unique, his precarious living situation is not. According to a 2016 Homeless Hub study, an estimated 85,000 Canadians are homeless, in one way or another, in any given year. While the dominant perception of homelessness is people sleeping on sidewalks, Tim MacFarlane explained that this couldn’t be farther from the truth:

“I thought I knew what homelessness looked like. It’s the people in the shelters and encampments. The guy sprawled over the sewer vents, trying to stay warm. The poor souls I used to give a few bucks to whenever I could.