The “flabbergasted” head of Windsor’s Street Help says the local Business Improvement Association is making her homeless centre a scapegoat for the economic woes in the area.Wyandotte Town Centre BIA vice-chair Larry Horwitz said last week that Street Help is one of the issues to “really look at” in the struggle to lure and keep businesses around Wyandotte Street East.Street Help director Christine Wilson-Furlonger said it’s another example of politicians and public figures unfairly taking aim at an easy target to pump themselves up.“I was really flabbergasted again,” she said Monday. “It’s like: ‘Let’s find something that a lot of people have a lot of anger and anxiety about. Homelessness and drug addiction. So let’s take Christine and her Street Help and let’s slaughter them as much as we can.’ That’s the attitude. ‘Then we’ll look like big strong champions.’ What do you accomplish in the end? Nothing.”Horwitz, the newly elected BIA vice-chair, told the Star last week the area “has been neglected.” He said drugs and homelessness are “major issues” in the business zone.
Larry Horwitz, the new vice-chair of the Wyandotte Town Centre BIA, speaks with the media in this file photo from Dec. 11, 2018 when he was the outgoing chairman of the Downtown Windsor BIA.
Dan Janisse /
The Wyandotte Town Centre BIA covers the commercial area along Wyandotte Street East between McDougall Street and Gladstone Avenue. The Street Help Homeless Centre is at 964 Wyandotte St. E.Horwitz also said the homeless centre is one of the issues to contend with.“It’s a really important institution in our community, and somebody has to do the heavy lifting,” he said Monday. “She (Wilson-Furlonger) is a kind and generous person. She has really come to the table and done work that nobody else might come forward and do. She should be commended. But there is a disconnect between her organization and the business community around her. The complaints have been that many people hang out in front, around that area, and it’s affected the business community all around it.”Wilson-Furlonger said she hasn’t heard the complaints, adding that 10 new businesses have popped up on the block in the decade since Street Help moved in.“That’s a lot of growth in this little block that Larry is calling such a horrific thing,” she said. “He needs to come down. I’ll be happy to give him a tour. I would love him to walk the neighbourhood with us, and he could introduce himself to every new shopkeeper in this area. If he thinks it’s in such a state of decay, that proves he hasn’t even looked at this block.”
Christine Wilson-Furlonger, director of Street Help, points out the businesses surrounding the homeless centre on Monday, May 27, 2019, in response to comments by the new vice-chair of the Wyandotte Town Centre, Larry Horwitz.
Dax Melmer /
Horwitz said he has not only been to the centre but regularly donates food. He added that he has made a call to Wilson-Furlonger so they can meet and talk about some possible solutions.“We think we can help build her organization and make it beneficial to the business around there as opposed to working against her,” he said.“It could be a win-win for everybody. The problem is the issue has been neglected for so long and nobody’s really paid attention to it to try to find solutions for both sides.”Related
Wilson-Furlonger said her centre and its clients have already created solutions for some problems. When Street Help moved to Wyandotte, she said, prostitution, drug use and drunken brawls plagued the area.“We moved in and we didn’t want that,” she said. “So the people we knew, we knew we could influence them to not do that. Our clients have been very good with us in that way. They want to keep what they have, so very few want to have any trouble. It actually became quieter, the neighbourhood. Our people go around and clean. They don’t like it dirty. They’re homeless. That doesn’t mean they’re refuse themselves.”email@example.com/WinStarWilhelm