Down, But Not Out

An introspective examination of the tragedy of homelessness in the richest society ever to exist on Earth

Homelessness is not an accident. Homelessness is not a problem. Homelessness is a political agenda. Why else would there be so many homeless people in the richest country that ever existed on the face of this planet.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Some solutions to homelessness.

The Revolving Door

There is a simple solution to revolving door homelessness. Many people who lose their housing do so because they can't manage money. Some have addiction issues and use their rent to get high, others have mental health issues and can't keep the importance of paying their rent straight in their minds and others have never been taught how to manage money. All the resources that went into getting them housed are wasted and years lost each time they travel through the revolving door. They can have the rent portion of their social assistance paid directly to the landlord, but it only takes a request to their worker to cancel this arrangement. Then they are free to spend the rent on other things and wind up getting evicted.

Instead of allowing this, the social assistance agency should lend them the rent arrears provided that the tenant signs a loan agreement which includes an irrevocable direction to the agency to pay the rent directly to the landlord until the loan is paid back.

It's simple, it's effective and it would eliminate a major cause of homelessness. And technically it wouldn't cost the agency a cent since the money would remain on the books as an asset, being an account receivable.

Vacancy Rates Are At An ALL TIME HIGH

According to several sources on my recent Google search for residential vacancy rates in Toronto, There is plenty of housing available to house all the homeless people in Toronto.

In a recent conversation with an apartment building owner, a solution to homelessness and to high vacancy rates could be easily accomplished by one simple and cost effect approach by the government.

Instead of the government building so called AFFORDABLE HOUSING, which when the cost to the taxpayer is factored into the equation is not at all affordable nor effective, the government should offer tax incentives to landlords who would be willing to provide a portion of their housing stock at reduced rates to people on social assistance. These reduced rate units would be available at the allowable rental rates provided for by the social assistance agencies.

The result would be a drastic reduction in the number of homeless people, a significant decrease in the number of families living below the poverty line and a major reduction in vacancy rates, which would in turn result in more market rental units being built.

Everyone would benefit.

1. Homeless people would be safely and cost effectively housed.

2. Families would be healthier and able to afford a more nutritious diet.

3. Landlords would increase net revenues with a marked improvement in profits.

4. The construction industry would have new projects to build.

5. New tax revenues from new projects would more than replace and lost revenues resulting from the plan.

6. The local economy would gain new impetus.

7. The government could redirect its efforts towards finding ways to provide better support to people with physical and mental disabilities and towards seeking real solutions to the addiction problems which plague our society.

8. The government would be the heroes for a change, instead of the villains.

It would be quite simple to develop a formula that would allow low income families that are not on social assistance to qualify for the low rent units too.

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