Homelessness: Can it be solved?
What’s the best solution to solve homelessness? This is the question municipalities and communities are asking when it comes to solving the homeless problem. The homeless have complex mental health, addiction, and social problems. Because of this, there are a lot of creative ways being implemented to combat homelessness and they all take different approaches and vary in effectiveness. One solution that appears to be working in Calgary is an unorthodox model that flies in the face of instincts of many people. The idea is to reward vagrants for becoming dependent on the system, rather than to induce them to provide for themselves. Only 5-10% of the homeless are chronically homeless and they soak up the vast majority of what the public spends on dealing with the homeless: shelters, paramedics, emergency rooms, police, social workers, soup kitchens. As the Calgary Homeless Foundation notes, every person in that small segment costs the system $100K or more per year, “two to three times higher than the cost of providing housing and support.” By feeding and housing the chronically homeless, the homeless problem gets solved more cheaply than the traditional approach of merely servicing it. The opening of a number of low-barrier emergency shelters helped the number of street homeless in Vancouver decline from a high of 815 in 2008 to 145 as of march 2011. Even though this decline was more than offset by an increase in the number of people using these shelters, its one way to get people out of the elements and into a place where they can access social services, medical care, and food. Unfortunately, not only does this solution not address the “hidden homeless” problem, people who couldn’t be found on streets or in shelters, it also created new ones with the neighbours of these shelters. Within months, the shelters have transformed one once peaceful neighbourhood into chaos and have become magnets for drug dealers, prostitutes...
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