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Dying for a Home: Homeless Activists Speak Out

By Cathy Crowe with Nancy Baker, Brian Boyd, Bonnie and Kerre Briggs, Kevin Clarke, The Colonel, Dri, James Kagoshima, Marty Lang, and Melvin Tipping.

Cathy Crowe always wanted to be a nurse but she never planned to be a street nurse—a title she continues to use to evoke the horror of homelessness in a rich country like Canada. In Dying for a Home Crowe brings us the voices of ten homeless activists advocating for change. The word homeless conjures many stereotypes, but rarely does it suggest bravery, courage, charisma, or intelligence, qualities demonstrated by each of these determined individuals.

The contents of Crowe’s nursing bag reveal the hard truth of her specialty. Her vitamins will not prevent the white plague of tuberculosis from taking another life. The duct tape to fix a cardboard shelter, or the bus ticket to get an elderly man to a hot air grate, will not ensure a peaceful night of safety and sleep. Crowe’s experience has taught her that the only thing homeless people have in common is being de-housed and forced to live in conditions of poverty. It is this first-hand experience with the disgrace of homelessness that turned her into a housing advocate and introduced her to the ten contributors to Dying for a Home.

Cathy Crowe has been a street nurse in downtown Toronto and has worked on issues of homelessness for over seventeen years. She co-founded the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee (TDRC), which in 1998 declared homelessness a national disaster.

"Between The Lines" website (Publisher)

MEDIA (Reviews, excerpts, interviews, mentions)

"Nurses Disappointed Health Care Not a Priority for First Ministers" (press release) • August 10 2007
Toronto Star editorial "Follow British Lead on Social Housing" • July 30 2007
Cathy's op/ed in the Toronto Star "People Deserve Housing" • July 13 2007
Inside Toronto "Local couple survives Dying for a Home" • June 8 2007
London Free Press "The Homeless: Through Caring Eyes" • May 20 2007
Winnipeg Sun "The Homeless: Through Caring Eyes" • May 20 2007
NOW Magine "Missing Tent CIty" (excerpt) • May 17th 2007

Globe and Mail: "Activist's book depicts life and death on the streets" • April 18 2007
CBC interview on The Current (.ram audio file) • April 13 2007

Toronto Star excerpt: "A home of their own in Tent City" • April 8 2007

photo:Vincenzo Pietropaolo

Dying for a Home
Homeless Activists Speak Out

by Cathy Crowe
with Nancy Baker, Brian Boyd, Bonnie and Kerre Briggs, Kevin Clarke, The Colonel, Dri, James Kagoshima, Marty Lang, and Melvin Tipping

click here to download a PDF orderform

192 pages
ISBN 978-1-897071-22-9
April 2007
Current Affairs · Public Policy · Social Work

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"Reading the Word/Reading the World"

If you can't find a copy of Dying for a Home, you can ask the bookseller to order it.

"A lot of people talk the talk about Social Justice. Cathy Crowe walks the walk, and she walks it together with the most vulnerable in our society. The powerful ignore her at their peril, she cant be stopped and she cant be silenced. Thank heavens for that. Cathy shines a light on the dark little secret of poverty in our affluent country. If people like her ran our country, we’d all be better off."
-Buzz Hargrove, President CAW – Canada

"Dying for a Home
is heart wrenching and inspiring. This book is even more impressive because Crowe and her coauthors manage to pull this off in the middle of the immense crisis they live in every day. Dying for a Home is required reading for anyone concerned about the ongoing emergency of homelessness."
-Sarah Polley, Director, Actor, Activist

"Why do those who can make a difference fail to act? Street nurse Cathy Crowe and the remarkable individuals she introduces us to make clear what needs to be done. Their formula should be ours: witness + honesty + speaking out = the right thing to do. We have in this book a powerful and moving series of first
-hand witness statements. The rest is up to us."
-J. David Hulchanski, Professor and Director
Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto

"Cathy Crowe? There is no more remarkable person I know in Canada . Her work has saved hundreds of lives on the streets of Toronto . Heres your opportunity to hear from some of the people she knows. Listen, Listen, Listen."
-Shirley Douglas, Actor, Activist

"Cathy Crowe has undoubtedly saved many lives over the last thirtyfive years as a nurse. Now, she’s given the rest of us a gift – she has invited us into her life, and introduced us to her fabulous circle of friends. They are sophisticated, wise and worldly folks. The only thing they have in common is that they are displaced people, discarded and dehoused by a system that has produced unprecedented wealth and prosperity, and at the same time, a permanent underclass of a quarter of a million homeless. Read this book and it will pierce the surface of your complacency, touch the core of your humanity, tickle you and teach you in equal measure. It will literally change the way you walk down the street."
-Avi Lewis, Filmmaker/Journalist

On Feb
ruary 14 2007 Marty Lang, one of the book's contributors, passed away. Click here to read a profile about Marty from the Toronto Star, March 29 2007.

Video of our book launch event