I had the privilege of presenting at an event called Ignite London. This is a trend happening in cities around the world, similar to TED Talks. However, at an Ignite event you have only 5 minutes, and 20 slides that are pre-timed. The idea is to give an inspirational talk, but make it quick.
I took the opportunity to address a question that I hear often, “Why is there homelessness in London, Ontario?” I presented my belief that the variation in statistics around homelessness from country to country demonstrates that homelessness is a policy issue, and that if we had comprehensive enough policies, we could completely eradicate homelessness. Note, my email address is wrong in the presentation and should read firstname.lastname@example.org
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Interesting. I agree with your conclusion, based on the comparison of U.S., Canada and Norway, that supportive/affordable housing is a big part of this puzzle. Is there a reliable set of statistics for the last 30 years that could be used to show a change in homelessness before and after the 1993 dismantling of supportive housing in Ontario?
Thanks for the question. You are not likely to find the statistics that you suggest here, mostly because we still, to this day, don’t have reliable methods for counting homelessness in Canada (see http://www.abeoudshoorn.com/blog/?p=35). The best way to track the growth in homelessness in Canada would be shelter use statistics, but it would be quite a task to get them for the last 20 years.
Are we dependent on statistics kept by individual agencies, such as homeless shelters, food banks, soup kitchens? These stats are likely consistently kept over a good length of time. Unfortunately, they are not necessarily a measurement of homelessness, but rather of services accessed. They are also very local. But, they might due as a starting point.
Absolutely not a measure of homelessness, but they at least give us an idea of whether service usage is going up or going down. And, as you mention, they are very local and only come from the largest municipalities. Interestingly, in the US they face the same problem and use street counts and service use from 300 large cities to determine the extent of the issue across the whole country.
I found the video presentation interesting. This is a major issue for all cities large and small in Canada and it is necessary to develop a strategy to combat homelessness through a combination of more affordable housing, improvements to social services and more employment opportunities. I used to live in London and had seen a few panhandlers at Dundas and Richmond, people camped in the bush behind the Labatt Brewery and at Springbank Park. I had since moved to Elliot Lake, a small city in Northern Ontario and see homeless people there living on the main town square, in shack and tents by the lake and in the back alleys exactly like what I saw in London.