Are London’s Homeless Just Being Bussed Here From Elsewhere?

Every city on the planet thinks homeless people are bussed to their city:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
However, the reality is far more nuanced.
1) Firstly, as most of these articles note, this is vastly overblown. Except for some particularly egregious American examples, there is no coordinated effort to move people to specific cities.
2) Secondly, all enumerations of homelessness in mid-size and large Canadian cities show that the vast majority of those experiencing homelessness have entered into homelessness in the community in which they most recently resided. Where this gets more nuanced is smaller communities with no resources who rely on mid or large communities to serve as hubs (and this isn’t just for social services, these cities are also education, employment, and cultural hubs attracting people for myriad reasons). Responding to this by building a shelter in every small town in Canada would be a bad design because you couldn’t replicate all the other associated services that end homelessness.

 
3) Thirdly, the overwhelming majority of moves we see within the sector are planned moves, intentional, individualized relocations, not “dumps”. What I mean by that is that people may request support to go to another community where they have friends/family, or know they can get help. We want people to be rehoused and if it means, “Send me on a bus to Kitchener to stay with my aunt” that’s a good plan, though it may fall through. The move is still a good effort.

 
4) Fourthly, at times service providers may help people relocate to another service. So if you have someone in need in your office who is ok with going to Toronto and you call Toronto and they will accommodate them (for example in a VAW shelter), then you might do that. Again, this isn’t dumping people in Toronto, it’s trouble-shooting services at the individual level.

 
Because of these points, some portion of those experiencing homelessness in mid-size to large cities will be from “out of town”. (Noting it is the minority.) But this isn’t a flaw, this is people and services trying to solve housing challenges. To use this as an excuse for any one municipality to not respond makes no sense, because we are as likely to help folks relocate to other communities if they want to, so those communities should likewise not reduce or restrict services. An Ontarian is an Ontarian (and a Canadian a Canadian, and First Peoples are First Peoples) who all have equal rights to supports wherever they land.
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