Eradication of Chronic Homelessness in Fredericton

 

By André Faust

The stereotypical view of poverty and homelessness is those individuals are in that position because they choose to be in that position and therefore deserve to be in that position and pay the consequences of their choice. The reality is, that is not the case poverty and chronic homelessness is not entirely due to the individual character type but more so to do with external factors that the individual has absolutely no control over.

The root cause of this ever-increasing homelessness and poverty is that our current local and global economic system has become antiquated and no longer can meet the social needs of both our local communities and global communities. The longer that this obsolete economy is allowed to continue the greater the number of people will fall into a state of poverty and homelessness and the closer that we will come to the tipping point that even those who a enjoying the great wealth and power will eventually also start to lose.

There can only be two possible outcomes either the economic system evolves and adapts to meet the needs of modern society or the system will eventually collapse in which no one will be spared.

While all the stakeholders in Canada are recognising the symptoms of a dying economy, steps are being made to buy time by developing strategies to address both poverty and homelessness. Hopefully, these strategies will buy enough time to allow the economy to evolve to accommodate the needs of the upcoming generation.

Fredericton the capital city of New Brunswick has put forth a workable strategic plan to eliminate Chronic Homelessness in the city of Fredericton. The mandate of the Mayor’s task force on homelessness was to study the problem and come back to council with a plan of action.

The task force consulted with all the stakeholders, the provincial/federal government, the business community, various churches and non-profits to arrive at a workable solution.

On June 12, 2017, the findings and the solutions were presented to council.
The task force reported that in the long term it would be cheaper to develop stable living accommodations to house the homeless than to have these people living on the streets.

Here are some of the recommendation that was outlined in the executive summary of the task force report.

• Reduce parking requirements for Housing First construction where appropriate as this:
· Decreases development costs
· Increases land available for other purposes that better meets community needs

• Donate or lease surplus city-owned remnant properties where appropriate for Housing First developments:
· Many such areas currently under-used
· Transportation and servicing infrastructure already in place

• Amend the definition of “assisted living” to include “permanent supportive/supported housing” as this will avoid the necessity of rezoning that can be expensive and time-consuming
· Will allow churches to more easily build housing on their own land that can be used for Housing First placements

• Provide Housing First participants with subsidised bus passes
· Helps people access much-needed health and social supports
· Helps access education and employment opportunities
· Incentive to remain actively involved in Housing First program

• Conduct an analysis of best practices and regulatory structures for rooming houses
· Least expensive housing option
· Other benefits could be realised

• Raise awareness about the broad community benefits of affordable housing and Housing First through ‘Yes in My Backyard’ education campaign

• Explore the viability of creating an Affordable Housing Land Trust under our municipal structure

• Conduct a process improvement strategy to make it easier for non-profits to participate in affordable housing development

Jeff Richardson reported that the intent is to build 40 units at cost of 1.4 million dollars. The Housing First Fund has been created and as of date has received $500,000.

The down side is that if the economy keeps degrading it is possible that once these 40 units are completed there still may not be enough units to meet the demand at the time of completion.


Fredericton City Council Talks the Talk About Eradication of Homelessness but Fails to Deliver

By André Faust

Just when you think you have seen it all, then bang something out the blue is thrown at you. The city of Fredericton has boasted that they were the leaders in fighting poverty and homelessness in the city of Fredericton, Mayor O’Brien even created the task force on homelessness.

Here is a direct quote take from Mayor Mike Obrien’s bio which can be found on the city of Fredericton web page.

“Mike has been in the forefront of promoting Housing First, a proven model to eradicate chronic homelessness in his City. This effort has put Fredericton on the path to being the first City in New Brunswick to eliminate chronic homelessness.”
That objective has become totally meaningless. The City had the opportunity to show it’s commitment to the eradication of homelessness and really shine as a progressive city in the fight against homelessness. But they blew it!
Instead, they passed a motion that will place a minimum for individuals on the street because their landlord in his act of compassion for those socially disadvantaged individuals allowed an additional four people to live in his room house after being asked by several organisations to help these desolate people. In his act of kindness, he did not think about by-laws and regulations. He put people first.

Well that didn’t go over well with town council, the issue for refusing application to convert his duplex into to a triplex so wasn’t because his building didn’t meet building or fire codes, on the contrary, his building exceeded the legal requirements The Problem is the as a result of act of humanity where he provided sanctuary to people who couldn’t wait for a lengthy bureaucratic process. They need help now, not 6 months down the road or a year down the road their need was Immediate.

Get this and again I quote from the city’s web page ” Councillor Price is a proud supporter of the city’s drive to end homeless” Yet he reprimanded Keith young for not following procedures, Eric Price essentially told Landlord Keith young he was voting against the application for conversion because Keith Young didn’t follow the rules, the process. Price basically told to Young we have to follow the rules and so do you. Obviously, Price has diminished memory capacity or is showing the early symptoms of dementia. Because right before the election council had to apologise for breaking their own rules in regards to holding an illegal meeting. Or when the Fredericton City Police falsified document to the internet provider to retrieve personal information from Blogger Charles Leblanc. In The Bernard Richards report, she admitted that the documents were false, but she apologised and said yes it was wrong, but it was due to a bad “Cut” and Paste”.

So it appears that if you are the decision makers of this city you can break your own laws, and all you need to do is apologise and it justifies the action. Well, Eric price didn’t accept Mr Young’s apology for his oversight, even though Mr Young’s reason was for compassionate reasons. His application was rejected for a minor technicality.

All this hype about Fredericton to eradicate homelessness genuine or are the players just creating a halo effect to make themselves look good to advance their careers.


Fredericton Mayor Mike O’Brien Creates Task Force on Homelessness

Homelessness-Task-Force-Fredericton-NB

By André Faust (Nov 21, 2016)

Homelessness, at any given time there can be up to 35,000 Canadians out on the streets either without a roof over their heads living on the streets or using a shelter for refuge. For some, they may not have access to the “soup kitchen” A term that originated during the great depression of the 30’s, which means that there are some who are going hungry as we feast on steak and foods from the major food groups.

Who are these desolate people? These people fall into several common categories, Those with mental or physical limitations, loss of employment without a safety net to catch them. Those with criminal records and records of non-conviction who have for all practical purposes has become unemployable, those with addictions, drug, alcohol, and gambling addictions. Lastly, those few who choose the homeless lifestyle over the “normal” lifestyle.

There are many Canadians, who have not encountered any major l catastrophic critical events in their life lack any empathy towards those who have fallen out of mainstream society. Instead of trying to understand the sociological complexities and solution to the causes of homelessness, tend to categorize the homeless into what Hindus refer as the “class of untouchables”.

Whether we accept or not Homelessness and it’s symbiotic partner poverty affects as all as a society we pay for one way or another. There is countless of studies that show the additional cost in health care and the to the justice and penal system.

In an excellent commentary in the Yukon news, Bill Thomas chair of the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition’s housing task force and chair of the Yukon Planning Group on Homelessness describes the result of Medicine hat’s initiative to eradicate homelessness and poverty by supply housing.

Medicine Hat, Alta. has a great story. In a city of around 61,000, some 875 homeless people have received secure homes in supportive or subsidised housing between 2009 and 2015. Of those, 285 were children.

The city’s first homeless count in 2014 found five people sleeping rough on the street, 30 staying in emergency shelters and 29 people in transitional, rent-geared-to-income accommodation. (Thomas, 2016)

Providing homes to the homeless save money in the long term according to Benjamin Gillies consultant on urban planning and energy. In British Columbian, it is costing approximately 55,000$ per year for each homeless person in the province however by providing the homeless population housing that cost is reduced to 37,000 per year, thus saving the province 211 million per year. (Gilles, 2012)

The reason is best given in by an American Study which supports the cost saving aspect of providing housing, the report says as a result of providing housing for the homeless resulted in a significant decrease in healthcare cost he found that there was a 78% reduction in emergency room visits and 79% reduction in hospital stays. He also noted that there was a signification decrease in jail time (84%) and a corresponding decrease in arrest down by 78%. (Miles, 2015).

The reduction is largely due to a decrease in crimes related to homelessness, such as trespassing, loitering, public urination, begging and public consumption of alcohol. (Miles, 2015)

What these examples show is that are solutions to resolve the homeless issue.

On November 14, 2016, Fredericton Mayor Mike O’Brien announced the creation of a Task Force who’s mandate is to study the homeless population in Fredericton and come with recommendations on resolving the problem

Mike O’Brien has for many years been deeply involved in Homeless and poverty issues, and as Mayor is continuing his efforts to mitigate the living conditions for those at the extreme end of the poverty spectrum.

If the task force studies that have been done in other North American studies their recommendations will have to include the availability of housing for the homeless.

The following is an excerpt from the City of Fredericton website on the creation of the Task Force on Homelessness.


Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness

The second announcement of the night was the creation of the Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness, a community- and City-driven initiative to identify actions within the City’s jurisdiction to help Fredericton end long-term, persistent homelessness and increase affordable housing options.

The Task Force will develop innovative, evidence-based recommendations to help meet goals set in The Road Home, a plan to end sustained homelessness in Fredericton developed by the Community Action Group on Homelessness.

“The plan is in action, but it needs more support from our caring community, and from the City,” said Mayor O’Brien. “Through the work of the task force, we will engage our community to break down barriers between governments and service providers, to advise how the City can develop new policies and designs to promote affordable housing, and to contribute financially, in a meaningful way, to this cause.”

The task force will be made up of architects, designers, builders, private, non-profit and public sector property developers, non-profit associations, apartment owners, and academics. It will have four months to develop recommendations for Council to approve and act on to help Fredericton become a more sustainable, diverse and affordable city.

In addition to Mayor O’Brien, who will co-chair the task force, the leadership team includes:

Coun. Eric Price: Chair of the City of Fredericton Affordable Housing Committee and Task Force Co-Chair
Jennifer Landry: Chair of the Flows Working Group
Sandi MacKinnon: Chair of the Partnerships Working Group,
John Leroux: Chair of the Form Working Group
Coun. John McDermid and Jason LeJeune: Co-chairs of the Finance Working Group

“Changing the way we respond to homelessness will require the collective effort of all levels of government, service providers, our faith-based community, private and non-profit sectors, along with the efforts of individual citizens,” said Mayor O’Brien. “There is a place for everyone in this bold vision, and we need everyone’s involvement to achieve it.” (Mayor Announces Location, 2016)

For more information, visit www.roadhomefredericton.com.


References:

Gillies, B (2012).  “Giving the Homeless a Place to Live Costs Less than Providing Shelters and Emergency Services | Toronto Star.” Thestar.com. N.p., 26 Dec. 2012. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. <https://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/2012/10/15/giving_the_homeless_a_place_to_live_costs_less_than_providing_shelters
_and_emergency_services.html
>.
.

“Mayor Announces Location for Performing Arts Centre, Homelessness Task Force.” City of Fredericton. N.p., 17 Nov. 2016. Web. 21 Nov. 2016. http://www.fredericton.ca/en/news/city-hall/mayor-announces-location-for-performing-arts-centre-homelessness-task-force>.

Miles , K (2015) Housing The Homeless Not Only Saves Lives — It’s Actually Cheaper Than Doing Nothing. N.p., 25 Mar. 2015. Retrieved on Web. 21 Nov. 2016. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/25/housing-first-homeless-charlotte_n_5022628.html>.

Thomas, B (2016) “Ending Homelessness in Yukon.” Ending Homelessness in Yukon. N.p., 23 Mar. 2016. Web. 20 Nov. 2016. http://www.yukon-news.com/letters-opinions/Ending-homelessness-in-Yukon/>.


The Numbers Of Chronic Homeless Persons Are Far Greater Than Expected

Faith-McFarland2
Faith McFarland
co-ordinator Community Action Group on Homelessness

In a recent study on homelessness that was conducted in 30 cities across Canada between February 19 and 22 of 2016 to serve as a baseline to see what the future trend is.  According to the interview with Fredericton Blogger Charles Leblanc and Faith McFarland, co-ordinator of the Community Action Group on Homelessness McFarland said the number of chronic homeless persons in Fredericton was much greater than expected.

 

“There is a lot more people than I imaged who are chronically homeless in Fredericton that means there is a lot more people who have been on our streets for six months or more.  Thats pretty devastating”

When asked by Leblanc “Why do we have homelessness?”, McFarland explained that they are many reasons to explain why it exits, as far as causes one thing that we all have in common when we end up in the street is that we have part of a population that a lot more vulnerable, the reasons could be trauma, addiction, abuse mental health, but a big part of it is access to affordable housing.

On February 21st 40 volunteers did a 24 hour survey in the City of Fredericton in locations where homeless people are likely to be.  The Fredericton City Police were most helpful in allowing the volunteers to connect with the maximum amount of homeless people, McFarland adds the police was also helpful in sensitivity training the volunteers.

The observations of the volunteers will be shared by the Community Action Group on Homelessness debriefing session in the Council Chambers of City Hall on March 15, 2016 between 10:00 and 11:00 am


A Charles Leblanc Video