Some random thoughts because hey, isn’t that the approach we’ve been taking for decades?
-As AwaitingJuno said - we can’t just have voluntary coordination (which isn’t even happening despite words to the contrary), there has to be government ownership and accountability. The buck has to stop somewhere. Yes, we still would like the churches and homeless and drug advocates do their good work, but there has to be a consistent, strategic and outcome based approach that the government directs and non-government agencies can sign up to play their designated role if they want the cash.
-What level of government Zoomer? Well, a combination of all three levels, but there has to a national approach and strategy or else we’re shuffling the problem and giving people bus tickets to leave the province. Easier said than done.
-Why do we allow a tiny percentage of society (less than 1%) to inflict damage, harm and violence on the rest of us? I’m not speaking about all or even most homeless, but those who inflict physical violence, steal, damage property, etc. I get it, you’re addicted to drugs - you must feed the beast. But get caught stealing then you have a choice, rehab or one year in jail. Yes, we need more rehab and more preventive measures right from child birth and even before.
-Why do we allow people to set up homes in public parks, or sidewalks? How about no camping in public spaces period, and zero tolerance for any chattel goods that block sidewalks, public spaces. In return, yes, let’s make sure there are a variety of housing choices available, it’s humane and mandated by the courts. Some people will always prefer camping to shelters, I get that. Have the province purchase a few hectares of forest land somewhere in the Greater Victoria confines. Create enough camping spaces for 500 people. Provide all onsite services required, including government supplied drugs. The government has then fulfilled its obligation to provide housing within the the region. No one has the right to live in a downtown public park or in downtown storefronts.
-In addition to the rights of the homeless and drug addicted, we need to think of the 99%. How about a motto - ‘Respect and minimize harm for all”. In all cases we need to think how we can do both - is it sane to think that we place troubled people in a dense downtown environment where negative behaviour will impact the greatest number of people possible and drag down the economic driver of the region? Services can be provided anywhere, and more cost effectively on lower cost land with less negative economic impact (think losses to individuals and businesses, increase security and police costs, etc). Downtown homeless housing should still be available to those who want to live downtown and haven’t been convicted of offences. If you have been, well, sorry, you go to treatment (mental or drug), go to jail, or you can have housing available further away from people you have harmed.
-Enough of being married to your ideology - we need to all work together and constantly adapt our approaches to find success. It’s not about egos or empire building, it’s not about my approach or my philosophy (or what I’ve spent 30 years teaching at UVic) it’s about helping those who are in need and the rest of the community.
-Success is putting yourself out of business.. this has to be the motto, otherwise you’re in it for yourself. There must be transparency, which is crucial for public support and engagement. Homeless counts must be conducted by neutral parties, it’s mind boggling and unscientific (isn’t following science what we’re all calling for during this pandemic?) that it’s not currently. Real time shelter availability on a public website, real time (as possible) crime/incident reporting online, but also progress reports.
-What’s we’re doing isn’t working - let’s be open to new approaches, such as who we have working with the homeless and how we engage with them. Let’s be more aware of who is sleeping or panhandling on our streets, or identify early on those who are at risk. Support them to steer them away from bigger problems, have a larger and more active street team that isn’t the police level when not required. Ultimately we’re spending this money upfront now because we want to help and then reduce spending greatly so we can redirect it for benefits we can all enjoy - like more bike lanes, reduced taxes, nicer flower baskets, better health care.. whatever your heart desires!