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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.

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