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.