LETTER: Housing first works

It actually costs more to deal with, and keep people homeless, than it is to deal with them on a pragmatic level...

I find it ironic that the City of Abbotsford would get itself into a peeing contest with the most desperate citizens in our society, the Homeless.  Even if they win their legal challenge, they still lose.  If the judge rules in their favour, they still have well over 150 homeless and desperate people to deal with.  Now what?

We all know very well, that it actually costs more to deal with, and keep people homeless, than it is to deal with them on a pragmatic level.

For example, the City of Vancouver, spends over an estimated $100,000.00 per homeless person, per year, when considering all the different agencies, Government and Social, dealing with homeless street people.  These are stats that were reported in the Vancouver Province newspaper last year.  The average amount spent on the homeless, in other jurisdictions, is over $60,000.00 per year.  If you incarcerate them the price goes higher.  These are obviously, not solutions.

In the town of Hope, BC, as well as Medicine Hat, and Winnipeg, they’ve developed a system called, “Housing First”, that has been overwhelmingly successful in dealing with this problem.  Not only has this strategy been successful at removing homeless people off our streets, it has also proven to be successful pragmatically, at dealing with their personnel issues, as well as extremely cost effective.  In Hope for example, it has gone from a no. one issue like Abbotsford, to an almost forgotten concern, with very little media attention.

The basis of the program, starts with finding a private, long term residence for each client.  Once the client has a residence where they can secure their belongings, with a real address, in a healthy environment, then they have the opportunity to deal with their issues, search for a stable income, as well as being monitored with social support systems.

In the beginning, it sounded skeptical, I know this very well, as I was one of those skeptics.  As it has turned out, it’s been overwhelmingly successful, and should be recommended to all communities dealing with this sad human tragedy.

Art Green

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