Toronto street nurse Cathy Crowe continues to fight for the homeless

Community Oct 07, 2017 by Justin Skinner City Centre Mirror

Over the span of the past 30 years, Toronto’s “street nurse” Cathy Crowe has both worked on the front lines in helping the homeless get the care they need and served as a tireless advocate for homeless issues in the city and beyond.

While that is where she made her biggest mark, she fell into homeless advocacy almost by accident.

“I had co-formed a group called Nurses for Social Responsibility back in the 80s, so I’ve been involved in a whole array of things — anti-nuclear work, peace, access to choice for women, a huge range,” she said.

While working in low-income communities in South Riverdale and the downtown core, she came face-to-face with poverty at a time when she was becoming more politically active.

Crowe worked for various organizations and found the impact she could have in the community depended on the doctors and agencies she was working with.

“I felt very frequently that my role was diminished or I couldn’t work to my full capacity,” she recalled. “I learned that this little group called Street Health had just gotten funding. I knew them and respected them — they were volunteer nurses that were doing health care for people who were homeless.”

She applied to work there largely because the agency was run by nurses, meaning that her voice would resonate and her skills would be maximized, thus beginning her journey into homeless advocacy.

The care model at Street Health was unconventional, with many coming in just to talk.

“Probably the biggest difference I could make was to be kind and to advocate and fight and to make sure the patients I was seeing got their referral or got to a specialty clinic or got the forms filled to get into housing,” Crowe said.

Street Health largely delivered primary care to the homeless and underhoused at various clinics and worked to ensure the homeless could get identification. That work remained largely invisible to many until Tent City put the issue of homelessness on the map.

“It was like a refugee camp in downtown Toronto,” Crowe said. “We worked on the ground at Tent City seven days a week for literally three years.”

The formation of the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, which highlighted homelessness as a major crisis, was a win for homeless activists, but with the city still facing an urgent shortage of affordable housing, Crowe remains active on the advocacy front.

The city continues to miss its self-imposed goal of the shelter system being at or below 90 per cent capacity, and Crowe wants to see the Moss Park Armoury and other sites opened up to increase the number of available beds. Having built a strong reputation as an advocate over the years, she knows she is in a position now where her voice will be heard on homeless issues.

“The best role I can play right now is using my background to move things forward,” she said.

For her work in fighting homelessness, Crowe was recently named to the Order of Canada.

Toronto street nurse Cathy Crowe continues to fight for the homeless

Street nurse named to Order of Canada

Community Oct 07, 2017 by Justin Skinner City Centre Mirror

Over the span of the past 30 years, Toronto’s “street nurse” Cathy Crowe has both worked on the front lines in helping the homeless get the care they need and served as a tireless advocate for homeless issues in the city and beyond.

While that is where she made her biggest mark, she fell into homeless advocacy almost by accident.

“I had co-formed a group called Nurses for Social Responsibility back in the 80s, so I’ve been involved in a whole array of things — anti-nuclear work, peace, access to choice for women, a huge range,” she said.

While working in low-income communities in South Riverdale and the downtown core, she came face-to-face with poverty at a time when she was becoming more politically active.

Crowe worked for various organizations and found the impact she could have in the community depended on the doctors and agencies she was working with.

“I felt very frequently that my role was diminished or I couldn’t work to my full capacity,” she recalled. “I learned that this little group called Street Health had just gotten funding. I knew them and respected them — they were volunteer nurses that were doing health care for people who were homeless.”

She applied to work there largely because the agency was run by nurses, meaning that her voice would resonate and her skills would be maximized, thus beginning her journey into homeless advocacy.

The care model at Street Health was unconventional, with many coming in just to talk.

“Probably the biggest difference I could make was to be kind and to advocate and fight and to make sure the patients I was seeing got their referral or got to a specialty clinic or got the forms filled to get into housing,” Crowe said.

Street Health largely delivered primary care to the homeless and underhoused at various clinics and worked to ensure the homeless could get identification. That work remained largely invisible to many until Tent City put the issue of homelessness on the map.

“It was like a refugee camp in downtown Toronto,” Crowe said. “We worked on the ground at Tent City seven days a week for literally three years.”

The formation of the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, which highlighted homelessness as a major crisis, was a win for homeless activists, but with the city still facing an urgent shortage of affordable housing, Crowe remains active on the advocacy front.

The city continues to miss its self-imposed goal of the shelter system being at or below 90 per cent capacity, and Crowe wants to see the Moss Park Armoury and other sites opened up to increase the number of available beds. Having built a strong reputation as an advocate over the years, she knows she is in a position now where her voice will be heard on homeless issues.

“The best role I can play right now is using my background to move things forward,” she said.

For her work in fighting homelessness, Crowe was recently named to the Order of Canada.

Toronto street nurse Cathy Crowe continues to fight for the homeless

Street nurse named to Order of Canada

Community Oct 07, 2017 by Justin Skinner City Centre Mirror

Over the span of the past 30 years, Toronto’s “street nurse” Cathy Crowe has both worked on the front lines in helping the homeless get the care they need and served as a tireless advocate for homeless issues in the city and beyond.

While that is where she made her biggest mark, she fell into homeless advocacy almost by accident.

“I had co-formed a group called Nurses for Social Responsibility back in the 80s, so I’ve been involved in a whole array of things — anti-nuclear work, peace, access to choice for women, a huge range,” she said.

While working in low-income communities in South Riverdale and the downtown core, she came face-to-face with poverty at a time when she was becoming more politically active.

Crowe worked for various organizations and found the impact she could have in the community depended on the doctors and agencies she was working with.

“I felt very frequently that my role was diminished or I couldn’t work to my full capacity,” she recalled. “I learned that this little group called Street Health had just gotten funding. I knew them and respected them — they were volunteer nurses that were doing health care for people who were homeless.”

She applied to work there largely because the agency was run by nurses, meaning that her voice would resonate and her skills would be maximized, thus beginning her journey into homeless advocacy.

The care model at Street Health was unconventional, with many coming in just to talk.

“Probably the biggest difference I could make was to be kind and to advocate and fight and to make sure the patients I was seeing got their referral or got to a specialty clinic or got the forms filled to get into housing,” Crowe said.

Street Health largely delivered primary care to the homeless and underhoused at various clinics and worked to ensure the homeless could get identification. That work remained largely invisible to many until Tent City put the issue of homelessness on the map.

“It was like a refugee camp in downtown Toronto,” Crowe said. “We worked on the ground at Tent City seven days a week for literally three years.”

The formation of the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, which highlighted homelessness as a major crisis, was a win for homeless activists, but with the city still facing an urgent shortage of affordable housing, Crowe remains active on the advocacy front.

The city continues to miss its self-imposed goal of the shelter system being at or below 90 per cent capacity, and Crowe wants to see the Moss Park Armoury and other sites opened up to increase the number of available beds. Having built a strong reputation as an advocate over the years, she knows she is in a position now where her voice will be heard on homeless issues.

“The best role I can play right now is using my background to move things forward,” she said.

For her work in fighting homelessness, Crowe was recently named to the Order of Canada.