There has been a lot of discussion concerning the homeless (unhoused) in recent letters to the media.
Some suggest drastic measures be instituted, while others have a more compassionate point of view. I don't believe it's a problem that can be easily resolved. Why? Because there are several factors that should be looked at before any resolution can be reached.
First and foremost, I believe we, as a society, have enabled destructive behaviour that is detrimental to everyone. The theft of shopping carts, the desecration of our streams, lakes and city park lands by people using them as garbage dumps or as a place to camp is not acceptable behaviour.
We seem to have lost our social mores, that sense of what is right and what is wrong. Yes, some of the homeless have mental health issues, some have developed mental health issues as a result of drugs, while others have made poor choices due to personal circumstances.
It is not merely a matter of finding a home for these people because some absolutely refuse to be housed as they don't want the constraints or rules attached to the offer.
A mayor from Nelson once said “When did homelessness become a small town's problem?” Questions that need to be asked are, how did the numbers mushroom exponentially in smaller communities? Were they bused in and off-loaded? (If so) from where and why? Who is paying for all their cell phones?”
My concern and the most compelling factor is the hidden costs to the taxpayer, and it is costing us. There is no discussion or disclosure of costs regarding the time, personnel and equipment required to respond to drug overdoses (sometimes up to three times a day to the same person), the increased number of law enforcement officers or the increased number of security personnel or systems for businesses required to “manage” the situation. The list goes on.
Everything and everyone comes with a price tag and you can be assured it is being passed on to the taxpayer.
There will be no quick fix with the government only focusing on four-year terms, as few changes are ever made. The electorate has the power to ask for change.
We all make choices. What's yours?
Mary-Anne MacDonald, Summerland