EDITORIAL: Inaction on homelessness costs money

Action comes with a price tag but the alternative is immoral and expensive

When it comes to taking action on the homelessness crisis in B.C., opponents to action will often cite the cost of providing services to the province’s most vulnerable people. Action does come with a price tag, but so does inaction.

A 2017 study by At Home/Chez Soi Investigators found that average annual costs for a homeless individual living in Vancouver reached $53,144. The study determined that homeless people with mental illness generate high costs for society, and new programs are needed to reorient the spending toward more effectively preventing homelessness and toward meeting the health, housing and social service needs of homeless people.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack Progress Opinion – Editorials, Columns and Letters

Throughout B.C., an estimated 7,655 individuals were identified as experiencing homelessness by a 2018 Report on Homelessness by the Homelessness Service Association of B.C. Fifty-one per cent of all respondents reported experiencing homelessness for the first time when they were under 25 years of age. More than half of survey respondents reported two or more health conditions. Fifty-six per cent of respondents reported an addiction, 44 per cent reported a medical condition, 40 per cent reported a mental illness, and 33 per cent reported a physical disability.

The statistics are clear: homelessness is a public health crisis.

Given that half of all homeless individuals report experiencing homelessness before age 25, it places emphasis on developing early intervention programs. Given that half of respondents reported an addiction, it places emphasis on the need for more rehabilitation services and treatment spaces.

Developing these services will have a cost. However, inaction on homelessness also bears a cost. When emergency services like police, fire, and ambulance are called to respond to homeless people, it costs money. When homeless people have to visit the ER, it costs money.

If the status quo continues, the costs of homelessness will continue to rise. Developing an effective provincial strategy on homelessness is the right thing to do, not only from a humanitarian perspective, but also from a perspective of fiscal prudence.

Black Press Media

EditorialsHomeless

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

EDITORIAL: The dilemma of living in beautiful B.C.

Tourism dollars are needed for the economy while some locals are crying ‘stay away’

Three men face attempted murder charges after Harrison Hot Springs stabbing

Man, 24, sent to hospital with life-threatening injuries following attack Wednesday

Four activists face charges linked to 2019 Abbotsford hog-farm protest

Mischief and break-and-enter charges laid for incidents on four separate days prior to the protest

Chilliwack children can get tested locally, Fraser Health confirms

Erroneous information online and via 811 has many families driving to Abbotsford for testing

New treatment centre for addicted youth opening in Chilliwack

Facility ready to support up to 20 youth with substance-use challenges

371 British Columbians battling COVID-19, health officials confirm

Thursday (Aug. 6) saw a second straight day of nearly 50 new confirmed cases

Visitors and non-residents entering closed remote B.C. First Nation’s territories

With limited resources, they say they don’t have any authority or power to enforce the closures

UBC loses appeal on Fisheries Act convictions

BC Supreme Court upholds order to pay $1.55-million fine

‘Tiny home’ being built for Abbotsford woman with severe allergies

Online campaign raises $59,000 for custom cargo trailer for Katie Hobson

Masks to be mandatory on BC Transit, TransLink starting Aug. 24

Both BC Transit and TransLink made the announcement in separate press releases on Thursday

Acclaimed B.C. actor Brent Carver passes away

Carver, one of Canada’s greatest actors with a career spanning 40 years, passed away at home in Cranbrook

B.C. would not send students back to school if there was ‘overwhelming risk’: Horgan

Plan has left many parents across the province worried about their children’s safety

Canucks blank Wild 3-0, take series lead in penalty-filled NHL qualifying clash

Jacob Markstrom stops 27 shots to lead Vancouver past Minnesota

Most Read