What the homeless need …

 … is homes. Check out this astonishing admission, as reported by CBC:

St. Paul’s in downtown Vancouver, one out of every four beds is being used to treat the homeless, drug addicts and the mentally ill, said [Lorna Howes, the director of acute and community mental health for Vancouver with the Vancouver Coastal Health authority].

We are spending money on the homeless that would be better spent housing them. In fact, we are spending more on the homeless through health care, criminal justice and social services than we would if we provided them with supportive housing linked to the health care system (see this post).

The solution proposed seems odd to me:

In a bid to reduce the number of hospital beds being taken up by the homeless and drug addicts in Vancouver, doctors will soon be making house calls to those who live in single room occupancy (SRO) hotels in the Downtown Eastside.

It is a good idea to make early interventions to monitor the health of homeless people. In fact, there are already street nurses working the Downtown Eastside doing this amazing work. But people in SROs are not actually homeless, even if their housing leaves a lot to be desired. And anyway, people go to emergency when there is an emergency. House calls are a laudable idea but of little use to someone experiencing a drug overdose.

I recognize that the health authority is trying to deal with a difficult situation. But really, a full-court press calling for major new public investments in supportive housing (and affordable housing more generally) is really what we need. In the next few years we are going to see a lot of high end condos built in the Downtown Eastside. Apart from a couple hundred units, largely tied to one megaproject (Woodwards), there is no new social housing on the slate for the Downtown Eastside, and these new units are going to be more than offset by conversions to condos in time for the project really sucking up millions and millions of public money, the 2010 Olympics.

One comment

  • Deep concerns for homeless .

    Best Place on Earth to last place on earth , living on the streets.Some Elitist groups along with magic wand waving groups, may feel they are above the Public conscience’s, or God, or Fresh and Blood or the Constitution. When they enforce to hundreds of thousands homeless to be trespassers illegally 24/7 bases anywhere outside. An even worse choice is living in shelters, both being Fourth World health condition. No matter how you spin it nobody is better or worse than the next guy. In order for BC to be among the best places in the World, we must land a Constitution rights like few other countries. Being in the coldest /wettest combo country in the world enduring 6 months can make Canada a hell on earth place. BC doubles the Homeless population every three years and most of us are one paycheck from bankruptcy or homelessness . Imagine our bodies freezing 25% time faster due to water contacted. The greatest genocide in human world history were our North America Natives , yet they did have Teepees, why not our citzens. Other Countries give free land to every single citzen and that design blends diversity, freedom, sovereignty with unity. Not having 90% of us struggle over rent and mortage. We are not allowed to set up one tent where US allows tent cities in every major Metro. This can easily backfire like China’s 2008 Olympic issues into an unnaturally crisis and make our issue, Canada greatest national disgrace since the great depression.

    To be the Best Place on Earth you must declare the largest movement ever done in Canadian history. First, they must grant all citizen land, once land is given, it will prevent most people from over paying for homes for the rest of their natural lives. Also it will prevent most Canadian from dying with $30,000 in debt. Our home owners today, are like the old Teepees on average turnover homes every 7 years. Per ca-pita North America’s problem leaves the largest foot print on the face of the earth, It helps to reverse. It helps a lot if you buy a portable Natural.Adobe.Small.Home that Gives full services, healthy sustainable and very affordable rent starting $125 a moth rather tents in BC for more

    Thank you for your care.

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