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Friday, February 19, 2010

On Housing the Homeless and Government Stupidity

The two letters following my little diatribe, with links to attendant stories, were written as news of upcoming housing developments and the implementation of the ACT team has come to the for in local news media. The first letter has been published in both local rags and will wait and see if the latter letter gets published in the Daily News.

You can find out more with regards to What is happening and what is proposed in Nanaimo with regards to Homelessness and Housing at the following link Social Planning which will also lead to this link as well Nanaimo's Response to Homelessness Action Plan .

Bottom line is that we need the rent subsidies and not just new housing. Rent subsidies are by far the quickest means to house the disenfranchised in safe accomodation and not continually having people cycling in and out of substandard accomodation provided by the slumlords of the community. This is a NO Brainer and actually ends up costing the government nothing when you consider the cost of providing a $200 per month subsidy is born out by the fact that housing a homeless person saves the governmtent $8,000 to $12,000 per year. In effect the government actually makes money.

Something else I am working on is getting the City to require significant contributions to the Housing Legacy Fund from land developers ie. Oceanview (Cable Bay) etc.. More on this at a later date.

Written February 16, 2010

In response to

Homeless strategy needs support Feb 10th Daily News

Letter to the editor:

That we are moving forward with Nanaimo ’s housing strategy is great, just how far we move forward is entirely up to the Provincial Government and one would hope help from the Feds as well. Recent announcements of the 40 unit low barrier housing on Wesley St. and Tillicum’s 18 units for seniors and youth are indeed good news but have been a given since the province contributed close to 15million in funding in late 2008. Where do we go from here?

It is important that people remember the province, in a memorandum of understanding with the city in November 2008, committed to providing funding for 160 units of housing and not just 58. One has to ask, how will the province honour this commitment when they are continually cutting back funding to services helping the provinces most vulnerable. The provincial government itself has stated that, "it is no longer possible to achieve the fiscal targets for 2010/11 without baseline reductions to funding for community service providers."

Since coming to power in 2001 this government has seen gutting social programs as a means of balancing budgets. It is time this policy was abandoned. Research shows housing a homeless person saves government between 8 & 12,000 dollars a year. On the low end the savings by housing the estimated 15,000 homeless in BC would be 120 million dollars, on the high end 180 million. Even a 2nd grader would recognize this as preferable.

Written February 18, 2010

In response to
Outreach workers face rent challeges to help homeless Daily News Feb 18th

Letter to the editor:

For year’s Social advocates such as I have mentioned rent subsidies as an easy cost effective means to get the homeless into safe housing. While creating new housing is another component these projects take time and large funding commitments before they even get off the ground. Nanaimo is lucky that 58 such units are in the process of development but the likelihood is that it will be 2011 or 2012 before they are move in ready.

The province is and has been aware for years of the need to implement rent subsides in Nanaimo . It is after all a major component of Nanaimo’s Homeless and Harm Reduction Plan developed in 2008, the very document that initiated provincial commitment to Nanaimo’s plan in the first place.

It is important to know that monies available last year through the Federal Governments Homeless Partnering Initiative that could have easily gone to providing rent subsidies were not allowed to be allocated as such. Why, because they say it is a provincial responsibility.

Nanaimo’s action plan also called for the creation of ACT teams. Providing the funding to staff the team without providing the easiest and most cost effective means to get the homeless off the streets and into safe housing is ludicrous.

Both the feds and the province need to take ownership of the problem of homelessness and work closer together.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Student Loans and Sealing

A couple recent Stories from the Nanaimo Daily News that I thought I would comment on.

Students plead for a break on loan interest

Sealing awareness campaign will lack perspective

What can I say about student loans? If you are not the beneficiary of them then as you will read in the comments below the story linked above you may not understand the difficulty some people have in paying them back. Me, I graduated in 2002 with a Child & Youth Care degree and $56,000 in student loans. In a couple ways I was lucky; one being I had stopped getting loans in 2000, otherwise I would likely have owed over $70,000; two, I had been under the remission qualifier program which meant as long as I graduated in as timely manner I qualified. The latter resulted, upon my graduation and submission of paperwork, in a total forgiveness of my BC student loans to the tune of $22,000. Had this not happened I would have been required to pay over $700 a month in payments but as it is I now only have to pay $300 a month over a 15 year term. Despite having paid over $25,000 since 2002 I still owe another $22,000 so I figure that by the time the loan is paid off the bill will be well over $60,000 and possibly as high or higher than twice the original $34,000. I am one of the lucky ones in that I can somewhat afford to pay but I tell you it ain’t easy and because I am always late in my payments it has really screwed up my credit rating.

Sealing protests? I fully support the protesters and if you read Robert Barron’s story, I usually like what he has to say, and have even the slightest bit of intelligence you will be able to read between the lines. No one wants to stop indigenous peoples from hunting for their livelihood and that is not the wholesale slaughter that people are protesting against. Mr. Barron talks about the seal harvest as food but other than those taken by First Nations the vast majority of the carcasses are left t0o rot on the ice with their mothers having looked on while their babies were killed simply for their fur. Mr Barron then has the audacity to compare the killing of baby seals to humanities insatiable lust for McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

“But killing animals for food, clothing and other uses has been an ongoing human activity since we first walked the plains of Africa millions of years ago and most of us, including many of the people who will attend Nanaimo's protest with Sparky, have no problems eating meat products or wearing leather. The anti-sealing groups have become very successful in their efforts to separate the seal hunt from the slaughter of pigs and cows that occur daily in abattoirs in every neighbourhood across Canada and the world by appealing to human emotions, rather than basing their campaign on hard, cold facts.”

Give me a freakin break Robert this is in no way even remotely the same and lest ye forget there are many animal rights groups that protest the way food is treated prior to becoming food. The killing of baby seals for monetary gain is plain and simply wrong.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

More musing, S/A and Meals on Wheels

So the Daily News published my last letter, Improved social safety net is what is needed, not too bad a job of editing.

Below is a link to more on the plan by VIHA, for the uninformed the Vancouver Island Health Authority, to cut funding to Meals on Wheels and another letter sent but unpublished as yet. Government and their lackeys just don't get it and it appears to be the same across the political spectrum. There are some services that it just makes sense to fund because ultimately they do or would save a vast amount of the taxpayers money.

Independance at risk for meal clients

Letter unpublished as yet

The social aspect for both volunteers and clients is but an added, no cost, benefit of the ‘Meals on Wheels’ program. Much like how the government would save money by housing the homeless, providing these people with a healthy meal is a cost saving alternative to the much higher costs that would be born by hospitals and other provincial care facilities in the event ‘Meals on Wheels’ shuts down.

The rationale government bureaucrats’ use, cutting funding that ultimately saves government far more money, simply does not make sense. If this is not a core service, providing a fundamental aspect of healthy living, that meets VIHA's responsibility to “ensure public money is spent wisely and deliver clear health benefits to the greatest number of clients," then what is?
That the providers of ‘Meals on Wheels’ are having a tough time meeting with VIHA comes as no surprise. This is an arm of government that consistently, despite spending a lot of money on an effective communication strategy, seems to disdain even the basics of community consultation.