News   Jun 18, 2024
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How to solve homeless issue?

If people could make money off homelessness the problem would be fixed already.
When you live downtown east like I do, you soon realize there's a huge industrial complex built around the homeless, with hundreds of workers dependent on the homeless for their careers, relevance and salaries. You don't get to be the $325k head of Dixon Hall, $200k head of the Sally Ann, $175k head of the Fred Victor Centre, or the $170k head of the Good Shepherd Ministries (with a 37% increase in salary over 2022) by eliminating your client base. I sometimes wonder what came first to downtown east, the homeless industry or the homeless people, since you go to where the services are (there's a reason we don't see homeless encampments in Craigleigh Gardens or Scarborough's Guild Park).

On the other hand, I think we CAN as a society make money on ending homelessness and putting the industry on notice that there's no money to be made here. By building housing for every one of the estimated 150,000 to 300,000 homeless people in Canada we can reduce the cost of policing and hospitalizations, while at the same time making it easier to address the costly societal issues faced by the homeless, such as addictions and mental illness. Within the decade many of these folks would become taxpaying, regular employed people, while the cost of taking care of any unemployed or retired people will be reduced. And we can rid Canada's cities of the encampments, parks of garbage, and reduce the drug dealers, pimps, thieves and others who profit from the existence of our homeless populations. And, there's more money to be made through eliminating homeless, since our tourism and reputation will improve (just look at how the opposite is occurring in San Francisco).

The Feds should lead a constitutional amendment to put a right to housing in the Charter, as part of a national emergency housing strategy. We need to treat homelessness like a national emergency, like a tsunami or earthquake, where the government(s) wouldn't just leave Canadians outside to freeze to death, but would rush to rebuild communities. What can it cost to provide housing to 300,000 people in their chosen communities where they have family or work? Not everyone is going to want or need to live in the expensive cities. Those with serious physical or mental illness may need supportive housing, but the rest might be able to live regular independent lives once provided with permanent housing.


 
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