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Adding up the cost of homelessness

This Magazine Staff

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Is Canada ready for a long-term plan to tackle homelessness or will the feds continue to rack-up the bill with temporary solutions? Estimating the annual cost of homelessness to be between 4.5 and 6 billion, Calgary journalist Gordan Laird provides research to show how the neglect of housing rights has affected Canada both economically and socially.
Laird will be giving a talk in Toronto called “Housing and Homelessness: Adding up the costs; counting the benefits.” He will be speaking on Friday Feb 8, 2008, 9 to 11:30am at The 519 Church Street Community Center (519 Church St. (north of Wellesley, take the TTC to Wellesley station).
His solution-based study, calls for action by the Canadian government to consider a “Housing First” approach to the increase in the homeless population, citing affordable housing as one of the main causes. As the number of homeless people rises, it is also diversifying, to include an overrepresentation of youth and Aboriginal people, and an increase of homeless senior citizens in Greater Vancouver by three times between 2002 and 2005.
The fact that it’s cheaper to house people than to keep them on the streets where they are in greater need of services such as mental health institutions, temporary shelters and the prison justice system, is troubling, yet not surprising. It is clear that there needs to be a radical shift in government approach to this issue.
Laird’s talk will address the housing sector in a broader context, focusing on the costs and solutions of the ongoing housing crisis.

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