Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The only Solution/Opportunity for Homeless People and the City.

  • Real Resocialization instead of attracting more homeless people.
  • None extra funds required.
  • More job opportunities.

I will reduce the current high concentration of homeless people in downtown Ottawa. By doing that I will create extra job opportunities at the same time.

Some of unemployed or those receiving social assistance can find gainful employment helping to house homeless in our City. In Ottawa we have many newcomers to our Country, specialists in sociology, psychology or related disciplines. Not having Canadian diplomas prevents them from getting productive jobs elsewhere. They will be happy to participate in such a program. This will give them an opportunity to earn their living and acquire an extra hands-on experience in their fields.

First, I will reassess and reduce to the minimum the downtown concentration of shelters. Their cost outside of the downtown core, where the real estate is expensive, can be reduced considerably by just moving them out of the central district.

I will not just move this problem elsewhere as one of our Mayoral Candidate proposed, or as it was once done in Alberta. Instead, I would propose the P3 project. This project will reduce the number of homeless, drug addicts and other vulnerable people on our streets.

We will help them. We will offer them a better chance by opening many small shelters based on private houses. These houses will be businesses-like, dynamic, flexible, linked in a network and government-controlled. They will be founded on the same principles as current shelters are. As small, often family-based businesses, they will be run efficiently based on the funds provided by the City. Homeless will be able to work and participate in home activities getting work experience and rehabilitation.

Here is how it will work. Currently the City provides a subsidy of $39.15 per each bed for one night to the shelter (80% of this money comes from the province and 20% is municipal). A person occupying the bed must meet eligibility criteria (almost all of the homeless are eligible).

Shelters receive some extra funds from other sources, for example from private donations.
In Ottawa, in total, we have 1000 beds for homeless people, and almost all of them are always occupied.

As an example:
Someone owns or rents a house and offers 6 beds in 2 bedrooms of his/her house.
Six beds times $1200 for a bed for a month results in $7200. Food and utilities for all inhabitants will cost no more than $2000/month. At least $5200 stays for mortgage (rent) and salaries for one extra employee.

The holder of the home, the employee and of course the homeless people will obviously benefit from this solution.

We have a few different types of shelters. Some have only 25 and some up to 200 beds.
Population of Ottawa is 855,000 while there is 8,550 homeless people in Ottawa. So homeless constitute 1% of the Ottawa’s population.

Unfortunately, at present, some of homeless people prefer sleeping under a bridge because in shelters, as they function now, they might have experienced beating; rape or their property was stolen in the past. In front of the big shelters there may be often a crowd of drug dealers to serve homeless and other people. This of course impacts people who visit or work downtown, tourists to our City, businesses in the city centre and everybody else.

With my creative solution no more harassment by beggars and no urine odour in pedestrian underpasses! Downtown will be safe and pleasant to visit again. Ottawans and tourists will enjoy peacefully the heart of our City. Tourists will stop trying to avoid Ottawa’s downtown and our beautiful Market area.

For more details, how these home based shelters will function, how homeless people will get there, and what to do with those who do not accept shelters’ rules or are troubles makers, please follow up my campaign.
*Resocialization is a sociological concept dealing with the process of mentally and emotionally "re-training" a person so that he or she can operate in an environment other than that which he or she is accustomed to.