The mayor of this city, Ted Clugston, confesses himself: he was more than skeptical at first, when the project began to be discussed, almost 6 years ago – in fact, it was even part of main opponents of this reform.
Today, Mayor Ted Clugston has come to realize that not only is this law a big step forward for the most disadvantaged … But it is also a miracle for the finances of the city!
Yes, you understand correctly: this law, in addition to completely eliminating the precariousness of housing, has the side effect of … making considerable savings to the coffers of the town hall.
“It’s both the most humane and the least expensive way to treat people,” says Ted Clugston on CBC.
You are surely dubious, and that’s normal: After all, have we not been tirelessly crushing our ears, telling ourselves that “the poor are expensive,” that the social benefits and benefits they receive are taken directly on the taxes of honest workers?
A homeless person costs $ 20,000 a year, while a person living on the street costs $ 100,000 a year.
If Ted Clugston, a rather pragmatic mayor, has been converted, it is thanks to a study conducted for this purpose by the Mental Health Commission of Canada. What this study discovered is that when we asked the homeless to have a stable life (stop drug addictions, alcoholism) before declaring them fit to apply for housing, they often fell back into poverty and were easily caught again in the spiral of drugs, alcohol and poor housing. Like an endless vicious circle.
For example, Clugston estimated in a CBC interview that the approximate cost of providing a year-round homeless shelter is about $ 20,000. But it costs nearly $ 100,000 to keep a homeless person on the street.
“With the Housing First program, we have completely reversed things. Before, we said ‘You want a house? Be clean first, and then we’ll see, “says Clugston. “But the problem is that it’s hard enough to become ‘clean’ if you have to sleep every night under a park bench. “
And apparently … It works. According to social workers in the city, most often, they find accommodation for people well before the 10 days they are given. The consequences, besides the virtual elimination of the problem of poor housing: crime is in free fall, and the local equivalent of social Samu has much less urgency to deal with.
Medicine Hat is not an isolated case, and it is not the only place where this kind of approach has worked. In Utah, when a similar reform was applied, poor housing fell by 91 percent. In this American state, there are now so few homeless people that social service employees know each of them by their first names and for good reason: There are only 178 people homeless in the state whole !