Homeless Canadians and the Housing Policy Disaster

by admin on November 17, 2010

Homelessness is not a crime. I am sure that we all agree on that issue unless we speak of a homeless criminal. However, what most of us don’t realize is that it is a burden so huge that it crushes an individual’s whole being under its weight. Just think about it for a minute: homeless people in Canada cannot work legally for they lack a domicile for tax purposes. They are constantly exposed to the vagaries of weather and as such, they are much more susceptible to various diseases. Proper medical treatment is hard to get as well. Quality meals aren’t something they enjoy three times a day either, with no proper kitchen to prepare food. They are more often victims to various crimes, with robbery being the most common wrongdoing committed against them. Homeless Canadians who have children have nowhere to take them to, and their overall social interactions are severely reduced. There are no backyard barbeques, no front porch chatting with the neighbors or inviting friends over for a TV game. Just to the opposite, people who own homes might be actually avoiding them. In short, the homeless individual is the ultimate pariah in our society, insulted, shunned or just plain ignored. 

Most of us are too busy to spare a thought, let alone a dime, about the plight of the homeless. We are complacent in our own well-being and firm in the belief that such a thing can never ever happen to us. We, however, are wrong in our confidence.

You might be surprised, but the newest studies have shown a marked increase not only in the actual number of the homeless, but also in the tendency for people to lose their homes. Research suggests that the rise in homelessness is the result of the recent economic downturn and the sluggish reaction of the government. Thus, an online report on homelessness stated last month that at present, there were over 200,000 homeless Canadians all over the country, with 1.7 million Canadian households (or 4 million people) currently in core housing need (Mostly Water). Another study conducted by the Salvation Army found out that 1 in 9 Canadians had been homeless or came close to it at some point in their life (CBC News). The authors reported that the demand for general social services rose by more than 25 per cent in 2009 and that the charity had to help more than one million people with food, clothing or other assistance (Ibid.). After citing numerous corroborative data, the study concluded with the warning: ‘homelessness is either a real or near threat’ for millions of Canadians. 

This dire situation may seem improbable to many, but it is the cruel, cold truth of modern Canada. What once was a country internationally praised for its housing policy has turned into a hard and hostile place for the less fortunate in life. To remind you, it all started in the early 1990s when the federal government decided to stop funding social housing and left the homeless to the mercy of the market system. Well, mercy and market sound kind of awkward in one sentence. As we all know, the capitalist society is not nor has it ever been particularly kind to those who fall behind. For this reason, our government should shake up its indifference and realize that these long years of apathy have been measured by the most dreadful of clocks – that of human mortality which ticks for a homeless compatriot once in every 3 days.

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