A recent study delving into the financial cost of homelessness found that emergency shelters cost the government significantly more than long-term affordable housing would, the Victoria Times Colonist reports. The current approach used by many major cities, including Vancouver, is not as cost-effective as trying to tackle the homelessness problem head-on by expanding existing services and facilities.
Homelessness by the Numbers
According to Covenant House, a facility for homeless youth, on any given night there are approximately 33,000 Canadians homeless, among which 11,000 are youths. Another recent study conducted by Dr. Michael Krausz, an advocate for addiction research, shows that 93 per cent of the homeless population have some kind of mental disorder and 83 per cent have a substance abuse problem, the Vancouver Sun reports.
Vancouver is one city dealing with the problem of homelessness. A study from earlier in 2012 found that the number of street homeless in the metropolis doubled from 2011 to this year, with expectations only predicted to get worse by 2014, the Times Colonist reports. The only way to prevent this occurrence would be to take steps toward homelessness prevention and rehabilitation.
Many experts cite the decline of provincial funding for emergency shelters and services, as well as some actions by B.C. Housing to allocate city-owned land to house those who may already have other accommodations. With more funding expected to end or decline in 2013, there is an immediate need for workers and facilities to help the homeless while they still can.
What Can be Done
The first step toward decreasing the homeless population is to build up existing services and facilities that aim to help those in need. Shelters, affordable housing and counseling centres are all places that can be expanded to aid the homeless, but many are currently unable to meet the city's demand.
"We run the risk of having the highest number of street homeless ever if we don't make these interventions sooner, versus later," Brenda Prosken, Vancouver's general manager of community services, told the Times Colonist. "If we do not take early steps to intervene, we will see that instability increase."
Many of the facilities working with the homeless population need to be staffed by professionals. These workers help confront the trauma and psychological aspects that may be related to a patient's socioeconomic situation, and they also deal with families, at-risk populations and those individuals suffering from a variety of afflictions.
Those interested in training for careers in the social services field can learn the fundamentals in the Addictions and Community Services Worker or Social Services Worker Foundations programs at Vancouver Career College. For more information, fill out the form on the right.