From the equality of rights springs identity of our highest interests; you cannot subvert your neighbor's rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own. Carl Schurz

Monday, April 25, 2011

How to Eliminate Homelessness And Save Money In The Process

It is very difficult to get accurate statistics regarding the number of homeless in this country, they vary greatly depending on the source, so I have split the difference for any of the asterisked numbers cited in this post. While certainly not ideal,it's the best solution I could think of.

No matter whose figures I use the situation is dire and getting worse by the day. The face of homelessness is a changing one,what was once the domain of transient men with few or no family ties,today's homeless person is more likely to have a job, be a woman, a child or a young person. Homelessness is also shifting from mainly an urban issue to one that is increasingly affecting suburban communities as well.

The most common reasons given for homelessness are the inability to pay rent, abusive situations , alcohol or drug use problems. Other reasons  include mental disorders, foster care exits, exiting from jail or hospitalization, immigration, rising housing costs and decreased rent controls, federal and provincial downloading of housing programs, and low social assistance rates

It is estimated that there are between *250 -275 thousand homeless in this country with the cost of providing services somewhere between*8 -10 billion dollars per year. For this money we get a shelter system that is rife with violence ,theft and  which carry a high likelihood of TB exposure, along with risks of bedbugs, scabies, and lice infestations

Now here is a fact that leapt out at me when I came accross it,in 2006 the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) had a surplus of $7.6 billion,in fact it enjoys annual surpluses,raising questions as to why some of this money cannot be spent on new housing initiatives

These surpluses were once used to fund non-profit, Aboriginal, and subsidized housing,however, following changes to Canada's National Housing Act housing act in 1996 to give the CMHC "more flexibility", its role in supporting new and existing affordable housing diminished. 

So now imagine if we were to take $4 billion from the CMHC's annual surplus and direct that to building subsidized housing and providing rent subsidies, short term rent assistance to those who need it as well as adjustment services. Plus as these come on line,reducing the number of homeless, we will need to spend less on treating the symptoms and can take half the savings from the funds we now pay and use those to further fund the treatment of the actual disease we could end homelessness while saving money in the process.

Nah on second thought that makes way too much sense to actually happen

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