When there are more vacant and foreclosed houses that people living on the street, we definitely know there is something fundamentally wrong with the way our society functions. This is why Medicine Hat (a 60,000 residents town in Alberta, Canada) is the first to completely eliminate homelessness from its streets. And with winter just around the corner, this has come not a moment too soon.
Other similar programs have also been used in Dallas, Texas and Honolulu, Hawaii, in order to alleviate the homelessness problem. Medicine Hat offers a home to every person and his family a home, in case they were living on the street for more than 10 days. Housing First as the plan is called, was also used to great effect in Utah, where they were able to reduce vagrancy by 91%.
“Housing First puts everything on its head. It used to be, ‘You want a home, get off the drugs or deal with your mental health issues first’. If you’re addicted to drugs, it’s going to be pretty hard to get off them,especially if you’re sleeping under a park bench.” – Ted Clugston – mayor of Medicine Hat.
It all boils down to economics. It is estimated that a homeless person living on the street costs the municipality about $100,000. To build a home and give it to that person, costs the city around $20,000. Moreover, ever since the “Housing First” act was put in place, the number of police calls and emergency room visits have decreased significantly. Why other places haven’t tried to solve this problem is a matter of debate, but what’s for sure is that the people in charge have other things on their mind. What these things are; well… it depends.