Over the past several weeks we’ve been focusing our attention on the issue of poverty and homelessness in British Columbia. Our goal is to increase awareness and offer action items that individuals can take to support local organizations working in the area. We’re also working towards strengthening the moral, social and economic case to end homelessness in our province.
Just before Christmas, in the third of our ongoing series, I compared the cost of dealing with homelessness to the cost of not dealing with it. I pointed out that there is ample national and international research to demonstrate that substantial cost-savings occur when we move away from managing homelessness through the provision of emergency services, to actually solving homelessness through a housing-first approach. For example, a recent national report concluded that spending an extra $46 per Canadian a year on affordable housing could dramatically reduce homelessness, and in turn reduce the $7 billion per year cost of homelessness on our economy. Utah in the United States provides direct evidence to back these claims up. In 2005, Utah launched a homelessness reduction strategy after it was estimated that by housing the chronically homeless the state could save an average of $8,000 per person on costs such as emergency room visits and jail stays. As of 2014, the program has reduced chronic homelessness in Utah by 72%.
Last night The Daily Show with Jon Stewart featured a segment on Homelessness with reporter Hasan Minaj. The Utah success story was the focus of their piece. I encourage you to watch this satirical spoof and distribute it widely. It may speak directly to those swayed more by economic arguments than social or moral arguments.
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