PLEASE NOTE: Please be advised that the videos below contain language that may be offensive to some.
A powerful video that surfaced this week offers an unfiltered and honest portrait of homelessness in Hamilton and all its nuances and challenges.
Penny O’Radical, a Hamilton filmmaker and homelessness advocate, is no stranger to Hamilton’s streets.
As someone who has lived on Hamilton’s streets and who has had to access our local shelter system and social services, O’Radical has made it his mission to bring those streets and the voices from within them to the people of this community.
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O’Radical’s short films seek to inform viewers by providing a raw look at some of the city’s most vulnerable. He openly discusses his own battles with drug addiction, mental illness and homelessness to tell the story of the streets but in a way that shows his deep compassion for others, his sense of humour and the depth of his filmmaking talent.
At a time when a global pandemic has highlighted the deep social disparity in Hamilton, and the debate around the city’s homeless encampments rages, the voices of those most impacted by decisions being made at City Hall are not being heard.
O’Radical attempts to address that gap by rolling his camera and providing an up-close and personal view of life on Hamilton’s streets.
He’s shared video tours of Hamilton’s encampments while discussing the challenges of homelessness in the time of pandemic with the people who live in them. He doesn’t offer commentary in these videos and just lets his subjects speak for themselves.
In his latest video, O’Radical speaks with Storm about his experience of being homeless in Hamilton.
Storm offers an eloquent critique of the City’s shelter system and social services as well as Hamilton’s response to COVID-19.
He also provides some details on his life and how as a born-and-raised Hamiltonian he ended up finding himself sleeping rough on its downtown streets. He gets emotional discussing the hardships and violence he and his loved ones have endured.
Most importantly, though, Storm offers some advice to average Hamiltonians about what they can do to help people living on the streets of their community.
“You can listen to us,” he said. “Being unheard is the worst feeling.”
The video is worth a watch if only to gain a little perspective on the people being most impacted by the global pandemic and the challenges they’re facing in this uncertain world.
To learn more about Penny O’Radical and homelessness in Hamilton, check out his YouTube channel.
Photo courtesy Penny O’Radical’s Facebook page