A recent report on homelessness in Denmark demonstrates that those experiencing homelessness face many of the same challenges in other countries as they do in Canada. I have mentioned before the people experiencing homelessness have some of the highest morbidity rates and lowest age of mortality in the developed world. In the Danish study (length of time not given), 17% of the homeless men died, making life expectancy 22 years shorter than the national average. Similar to my stats of 2/3 mental illness and 1/3 addictions in Canada, in the Danish study 62% of men had a mental illness and a higher rate of 49% of men were experiencing an addiction.
Creating system-level change requires political will. Political will follows public will. Hopefully numbers such as these will help provide motivation for the general public in London and Canada to say that homelessness is no longer acceptable in our society, and we will work to provide safe and supportive housing for all.
I agree it all starts with public will, but disagree political will follows public will. Political will follows the politician’s will, which is the mighty dollar will. There is no profit in helping the poor/homeless so it is not an important political topic. (or so it seems to me)
I could not agree more with the idea in the article but I recognize what @Thatguyinlondon is saying. But I disagree that there is no profit in helping the poor/homeless. If we think in terms of economics and the public good helping the homeless and the poor has a direct immediate economic impact on our economy. It’s simple math. You establish a base of security, both in terms of health and welfare, for those that need it and by doing this you provide them the means to think beyond there next meal/bed. Once that happens opportunities for education, employment, the chance to thrive, and contribute to the tax and economic base of the community emerge. We need to create a morale and economic continuum of care from cradle to grave. Have a read of this – http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/story/2010/03/25/mb-poverty-experiment.html and this – http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/to-end-poverty-guarantee-everyone-in-canada-20000-a-year-but-are-you-willing-to-trust-the-poor/article1806904/singlepage/
Tell me, what can I, with very little clout but lots of heart, do to encourage the necessary shift in political will?
Great question, Katie. I will refer you to start to the post I did for the London Community Foundation here: http://www.lcf.on.ca/blog/confronting-homelessness-london-ontario. I think most importantly, it’s a matter of getting connected with what is already going on, rather than starting something new. To tie into the work I am doing with the London Homelessness Outreach Network, you can check out our site at http://www.londonhon.ca, and come out to any of our meetings. Thanks for your interest!