Americas, Canada, Human Rights

The Best Medicine For Homelessness

The town of Medicine Hat has found one of the best ways to get rid of homelessness: to give house to the homeless and get them off the streets.

Sounds too simple?

It’s really not! Let’s do a simple breakdown of the situation, shall we? Let’s first look at it from a purely financial perspective. In Alberta currently, the city will give housing for free to people who have spent more than 10 days in an emergency shelter. While not EVERYONE has gotten housing yet, this is only the 2nd year of a 5-year plan to end homelessness in the city; so far over 1000 people have been housed.

“That’s all well and good!” you might say. “But how does that make FISCAL sense?” Here’s why: leaving homeless men and women on the streets costs far more than you would expect. When you add up the trips to jail for people who are forced to steal or are arrested for loitering, the emergency room trips that can’t be paid for, and any court trips, the total comes to around $100,000 PER PERSON.

Homelessness Redefined

Now compare that to what housing costs. When you spit it between a few people, the cost comes out to NO MORE than $35,000. Right away, we find that it costs $65,000 less, but there are even more benefits. When you are comfortable with housing and food and clothing, it is infinitely easier to get a job and start cycling off of any drugs that may be in your system. People who have a home to go back to take for granted how much easier it is to keep your life on track when you always have a place to go.

It’s amazing that sometimes, doing the right thing actually makes financial sense and costs LESS than just leaving people to their own devices. Medicine Hat has done an amazing thing; they have proven that actually caring for people in a real act of humanitarianism works better for EVERYONE than simply ignoring the problem and hoping that it goes away eventually. If a small town is able to take great strides towards fixing the problem of homelessness, larger cities have no excuse.

No More Excuses

The excuse that larger cities have more homeless and therefore cannot take care of nearly as many people also falls through the cracks; larger cities have MORE resources and would save more money by working on fixing the problems that face the homeless; the economic benefits of turning homeless people into productive members of the economy would be worth MILLIONS.

The homeless in housing projects would not be freeloaders; the would be on track to fix their lives up and get back the dignity that every human being deserves. No one WANTS to be homeless; almost everyone would rather have somewhere to live and rewarding work to do. Hats off to this small town in Alberta; they’ve taken strides where few others have dared to tread!

About Caleb Smith

Caleb is a freelance writer and music student from the United States, with a passion for comic books, reading, and punk rock. He loves writing about often overlooked and under-reported stories to help raise awareness.

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