Solving homelessness is a joint responsibility

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I am responding to Doug Toshack’s letter (Gazette, Nov. 18).

In St. Albert we have up to 100 homeless people, ranging from youth fleeing an abusive home, to women abused by their partners, to those who have succumbed to drugs and alcohol.

The cost of homelessness to society ranges from approximately $20,000 per homeless person in Halifax to up to at least $100,000 in other cities. Homeless persons are heavy users of the health care system, the police, the courts, and the jails. Theft increases the cost of our food. Having said this, the homeless are not the sole perpetrators of crime in the city. While I do not have specific statistics, the cost of homelessness is at least twice the cost of Canadians that are housed. And, these statistics do not include the value of donations of food, clothing, and other donations to a variety of helping organizations.

You may want to verify these statistics. Simply Google “cost of homelessness in Canada.”

While Doug Toshack refers to the McCauley area in Edmonton, there is little housing for the homeless in that area, mainly shelters where they must leave each morning. And in some cases there is no room at night. Using a supportive housing model is a quite different scenario, it provides dignified and permanent housing.

On the one hand, think of the money that is being saved when the homeless are housed, money that reduces your taxes. And on the other hand, please realize that a society is only as strong as its weakest person. By providing housing we are strengthening our community, making it a better and safer place to live for all residents. This is my belief.

The St. Albert Community Village is a Coalition partner and would be available to answer your questions. Please call 780-459-0599 for more information or to arrange a visit. We will be delighted to see you.

Charles Schroder, president St. Albert Community Village and Food Bank

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