Just say no to homelessness...
It is finally time for innovative solutions for the homeless in our province. Years and years of throwing money at the problem hasn’t worked – the number continues to grow and taxpayers are weary.
In fact, what we’ve done is develop a whole network of government and non-profit agencies devoted to helping the homeless stay homeless. They provide emergency food, emergency shelter, and emergency medical care.
There is an old adage in economics: if you want to encourage something, subsidize it; if you want to discourage something, tax it.
Right now, in a sad way, we are encouraging homelessness, making it “bearable” to be homeless by providing these “emergency” services.
Now, before you get all twisted up, I’m not saying it is pleasant to be homeless and I’m not saying anyone wants to be homeless.
But let’s not forget we have built up a substantial industry of well-meaning people who make their livelihoods and defend their funding on the basis of supporting a homeless population.
The 2005 GVRD counted the total homeless population (in a 24 hour counting period) at 2174. I would suggest the number is higher, just because of survey techniques. I doubt the counters climbed through the bushes in Stanley Park enumerating all the tent dwellers, for instance.
Let’s say 3000 people in the GVRD are homeless. These, of course, are the truly homeless without access to a friend’s spare sofa and not knowing from night to night whether they will be sleeping in a crowded, fetid shelter or over a vent at Georgia and Burrard.
From the GVRD research, they are likely medically or mentally ill and struggle with some form of addiction. Most startling was the information that 55% of homeless had some form of income support from welfare, a pension or disability benefits.
So here is one radical idea and I’m sure there are more.
Why don’t we gather together each and every homeless service organization at BC Place along with each and every homeless person? Why not take each person, one at a time, diagnose the issues at the root of their inability to find or maintain housing and then put a plan in place for each?
More money for homeless services isn’t going to rid us of homelessness. In fact, it will do the opposite. If we take those funds and direct them to removing each person individually from the streets, we may actually make some lives better.
In the short-term, we can house them at BC Place while we sort it all out.
It is not right to help people stay on the streets. The only moral course of action is to remove them, forcibly if necessary, and assist them in building a new life.
As seen today in 24 Hours.