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Victoria homelessness issues


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#21 Urbalist

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Posted 28 January 2007 - 06:08 PM

What I've observed is that there is a range of people, with a variety of categorized tags - who are significantly affecting the lives of others; others being the majority of people who are capable of taking personal responsibility and have the ability to avoid negatively impacting others.

I believe that there is much more diversity amongst the disadvantaged than there is, say, with the average middle-class, working-class consumer.

So given this range, I have difficulty determing who is in real need, and who are abusing the system. That is, which people have no control over their actions, and others that have enough wits to monopolize most of the resources available to all.

I must then rely on professionals who work in the social services field to know who are just lazy and adopt a downtown existence as a manageable lifestyle, who are highly motivated individuals whose daily job accomplishments are to vandalize, steal, beg, etc. And who are very successful at doing that. Day after day.

And who are the souls who live in a blur they cannot control, and who have little chance of improvement before they perish.

My intuition says that an immediate and ongoing solution is to direct scarce resources towards certain people, and to get very, very strict with others. Very strict.

Judgements need to be made, by people qualified to do so.

#22 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 28 January 2007 - 09:33 PM

One of the problems in the social sectors is that non-judgementalism is considered the highest good. If you want to make it in social work or in any government department that deals with social issues, you are obliged, utterly obliged, to drink the non-judgementalism kool-aid.

I agree with you, Urbalist, that we need to make judgements. Telling people to be "non-judgemental" does not erase stupidity from the world, but instead simply keeps sane people from saying that the emperor wears no clothes...

I also think that identity politics have had a huge societal effect -- enabling some actions, hindering others. I think that on the whole, most of the people posting on this forum are strongly individualist. We have a variety of affiliations with certain groups and concerns, we have what can be crudely identified as left- or right-wing concerns. But on the whole, there's a strong tendency on the part of the folks who post to this forum to value individualism and free expression. And in a lot of ways, we would be made collectively to feel badly about this, if our ideas were to reach into the committees that actually have the power to implement programs and policies. The range of negative labels that can be attached to people who aren't allied with the "right" kind of group identity (or group-think!) is breath-taking.

If someone had suggested 25 years ago that I'd ever read a Francis Fukuyama article without snarling, I'd have laughed. But he has a very measured piece on identity politics in the Feb.07 Prospect Magazine (not to be confused with American Prospect Magazine), called [url=http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=8239:05125]Identity and migration[/url:05125]. It's mostly about a much bigger issue (Islamic communities in the West), but the bits around identity politics and how we got here are really interesting. (Fukuyama was a famous neocon then, whereas now he has distanced himself from that camp; Prospect Magazine is considered, FWIW, a "left libertarian" publication...)

This is how his article starts:

Modern identity politics springs from a hole in the political theory underlying liberal democracy. That hole is liberalism's silence about the place and significance of groups. The line of modern political theory that begins with Machiavelli and continues through Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and the American founding fathers understands the issue of political freedom as one that pits the state against individuals rather than groups. Hobbes and Locke, for example, argue that human beings possess natural rights as individuals in the state of nature—rights that can only be secured through a social contract that prevents one individual's pursuit of self-interest from harming others.


It's a tidy, clear introduction; followed by more history. So, if your eyes haven't glazed over by now, take a read...
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#23 mikedw

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Posted 03 February 2007 - 07:05 PM

In today's T-C, this [url=http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/letters/story.html?id=2d9a199b-a3d2-4402-be19-55e8464871e6:37727]letter to the editor[/url:37727], responding to Stewart Johnston's Jan.25 commentary (posted by Derf, above):

Failed drug laws create street problem

Friday, January 26, 2007

Re: "It's time to take back our streets," Jan. 25.

While I sympathize with Stewart Johnston's feelings about the garbage and other "droppings" left at his door, I suggest that he consider why the people responsible appear to be addicted to illegal drugs, as opposed to alcohol or tobacco.

The disastrous policy of drug prohibition has resulted in innumerable negative consequences -- jammed courts and prisons, police corruption, spread of disease, lack of respect for the law, huge costs -- in addition to the problems he describes.

Alan Randell,
Victoria.
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007


Warning: Rant/ opinion coming up: (And it's gonna tick some of you off, left & right, but I don't care about left & right anymore...)

But they're not victims of the law.


I don't know where to start, so I'll make a blanket statement: you are right on the money.

Somehow drug addiction is a free pass. "Don't blame me. I'm a drug addict." "I can't help myself, I'm an alcoholic." You get lattitude and room to get treatment. You don't get to do anything you want and use this as carte blanche.

These people are criminals. Period. It's rare to find a criminal who does what they do with lots of alternatives-- people break the law because they have to. They're either trapped by circumstance or their own bad decision making or a little of both.

The best thing about this whole affair is that these criminals are literally shitting on a lawyer. Stewart Johnson and others who are suffering can sue VIHA and persons John Doe and Jane Doe for interference of business. At the very least, litigants could apply for something like a bubble zone around their businesses.

The problem would then be what happens when the criminals violate court orders and return to their old ways. Security guards can only do so much. Police may not show up to arrest people who are violating court orders.

As Chief Wiggum says, "We can't going around policing everyone."

Maybe shame is the only thing that could spark action. What could embarass Victoria into action? Too bad Dateline NBC (and all of its viewers-- potential tourists to Victoria) couldn't do a piece on Victoria: a haven for IV drug users. As soon as Victoria's sacred cow-- tourism-- were in jeopardy, I think we could expect a lightning fast response.

Maybe the problem has a simple solution: 50 bus tickets to Toronto. Tell the hard-core criminals they can go to jail or TO. These criminals aren't here for solutions-- they're here for a soft touch.

I know all communities have drug problems, but a fiend of mine visiting from Australia (after spending time in London, New York and other places), couldn't believe how bad our problem was.

I think it's important to address this issue now. After all tourist/drug-addict season is a couple of months away. When the good weather hits, we somehow have more drug addicts. Maybe we've become the Hamptons for the IV drug user set.

#24 Mike K.

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 10:39 AM

Counting the homeless
More than numbers


Times Colonist
Published: Saturday, March 03, 2007

More than 1,100 people in the capital region are homeless or living in unstable housing, according to this winter's homeless needs survey.

But the people responsible for survey -- advocates for the homeless -- believe the real number is higher. Some people went out of their way not to be included, they say. Homeless families, especially, are often reluctant to identify themselves, said Community Council researcher Jane Worton.

The Feb. 5 count found 743 homeless men, women and children in the capital region, including 44 children under 16.

Volunteers interviewed 372 people who live in unstable housing, which can mean anything from housing that does not meet basic health and safety standards to living with violence or abuse.

Preliminary information shows most of the homeless are home-grown, with 73 per cent saying they are from the capital region.

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007

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#25 aastra

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 02:09 PM

In Seattle a similar survey counted 1,946 homeless last year. So Victoria is in the same league as a city 8x its size?

http://www.thecitycollegian.com/artman/publish/article_590.shtml

#26 aastra

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 02:13 PM

Meanwhile, San Diego County (same pop. as Seattle) has somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 homeless, depending on the source:

http://weblog.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20070224-9999-1m24count.html

http://www.rtfhsd.org/

#27 m0nkyman

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 03:41 PM

Look very, very critically at the definition of homeless. It's constructed so as to include a lot more people than you or I would picture as homeless.....

#28 josephelopod

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 04:15 PM

there is a large population of couch surfers and homeless with car, who are hard to identify because for all appearances generally look very functional. this demographic has some pride intact and may not go to food banks or public showers, but rely on a friend for some amenities, yet has no property of their own. those no overnight parking signs at beacon hill arn't there for decoration!

perceptions of the homeless can be difficult, especially trying to explain to children. there is this overwhelming tendancy to explain away all street people as junkies. when I'm in town with my kids, which is pretty often, if we see someone panning who has a dog, or more rarely a cat, someone trying to sell their paintings or crafts, some selling street newz, people toting around a tonne of recyclables, I tell them that these are people who are trying to make some effective change in their lives and are publically showing it by not imbiding in b&e and other sorts of thefts. these are the people that should be empowered and not swept up with the severe junkie criminals that have no capacity left for personal or private respect.

and, hi all, first post! I'm not sure if any of these things have been said in other threads, will slowly wind my way around this interesting pocket of town.

#29 KublaKhan

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Posted 20 March 2007 - 03:53 PM

there is a large population of couch surfers and homeless with car, who are hard to identify because for all appearances generally look very functional. this demographic has some pride intact and may not go to food banks or public showers, but rely on a friend for some amenities, yet has no property of their own. those no overnight parking signs at beacon hill arn't there for decoration!



I get your point. However, the insinuation is that those who don't look functional, have no pride.

perceptions of the homeless can be difficult, especially trying to explain to children.


Simple solution: tell the kids that these people live on the streets. The streets are their homes. This is where they live, eat, sleep, relieve themselves, bathe, cry, shiver, work, forge relationships, etc. etc. etc. It's an honest and direct answer.

there is this overwhelming tendancy to explain away all street people as junkies. when I'm in town with my kids, which is pretty often, if we see someone panning who has a dog, or more rarely a cat, someone trying to sell their paintings or crafts, some selling street newz, people toting around a tonne of recyclables, I tell them that these are people who are trying to make some effective change in their lives and are publically showing it by not imbiding in b&e and other sorts of thefts. these are the people that should be empowered and not swept up with the severe junkie criminals that have no capacity left for personal or private respect.


Or 'these people are working their asses off trying to earn an honest living.'

Consider how many tonnes per year a city's worth of gleaners removes in recyclable materials. Yanking glass and tin and plastic out of the waste stream can be risky business. It's dirty and inglorious work. But it's work, and it contributes to their personal economy, and the broader economy as well AND proves just how generally fraudulent mainstream society is in playing green.


#30 josephelopod

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 09:47 AM

I get your point. However, the insinuation is that those who don't look functional, have no pride.


fair enough!! there is a general dismissal of panhandlers by the other members of the downtown community that dehumanizes them. when someone asks you for the time you don't ignore them and pretend you havn't heard or seen them, but people often do this when being asked for change. it takes a tough skin to be snubbed consistently by other people daily, and there is pride there.

I guess what I was trying to say was the couchsurfing/car dwelling demographic has a different sort of pride, that they don't necessarily see themselves as a marginalized people in need of assitance. possibly shame of seeking out services is admission of defeat or crossing an invisible line. it's a hard thing to generalize as you can't even quantify how big the situation is.

Simple solution: tell the kids that these people live on the streets. The streets are their homes. This is where they live, eat, sleep, relieve themselves, bathe, cry, shiver, work, forge relationships, etc. etc. etc. It's an honest and direct answer.


I don't think that all of the street people on a equal basis. there are many who are there because of cracks in the housing/welfare situation, mental health, injuries, tragedy and addictions. there is also a portion who are in a hard drug and criminal atmosphere who don't have the same desire to affect positive change in their lives or others. this is necessary to distinguish as it's not one solution for the the whole homeless community. I use these telltale signs ( selling crafts, owning a pet, street newz, etc ) to explain to my kids that these are not the same sorts of homeless people who actually do pose a risk to the community. to deny that the junkie community is causing incredible personal and commercial loss across the board is as unfortunate as blaming every other homeless person downtown for those crimes.

#31 KublaKhan

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 12:49 PM

Simple solution: tell the kids that these people live on the streets. The streets are their homes. This is where they live, eat, sleep, relieve themselves, bathe, cry, shiver, work, forge relationships, etc. etc. etc. It's an honest and direct answer.


I don't think that all of the street people on a equal basis. there are many who are there because of cracks in the housing/welfare situation, mental health, injuries, tragedy and addictions. there is also a portion who are in a hard drug and criminal atmosphere who don't have the same desire to affect positive change in their lives or others. this is necessary to distinguish as it's not one solution for the the whole homeless community. I use these telltale signs ( selling crafts, owning a pet, street newz, etc ) to explain to my kids that these are not the same sorts of homeless people who actually do pose a risk to the community. to deny that the junkie community is causing incredible personal and commercial loss across the board is as unfortunate as blaming every other homeless person downtown for those crimes.


I don't deny there are as many reasons for living on the street as there are people living on the street. It's a mutli-faceted and well-populated problem.

My point was to suggest that when asked the question, answer directly and honestly by telling your kids that these people live on the streets, etc. etc. and forget the judgement call as to why they are there.

Or at least, you can say, "Well son/daughter...it's a complicated issue.

#32 josephelopod

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 02:56 PM

edit

#33 Caramia

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 06:10 PM

There is a huge difference between the relatively small group of criminal junkies (many of whom are housed but who are very visible downtown) and the many non-criminal people struggling with drug addiction or mental illness, the non-criminal, non-visible homeless who are pretty functional and who blend in easily. The tendancy to lump everyone under one blanket, or conversely seperate them out into neat little sub-categories that may not work, is, in my opinion, one of the reasons we have the problem we do.
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#34 Willa

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 10:33 AM

Getting back, briefly, to the discussion of legalizing drugs. From what I understand, there are many taxes placed on alcohol -- a legalized drug.

So, if we legalize other drugs, we can tax the crap out of them, and make money -- which we then can use to pay for more cops downtown, fund treatment programs and create more housing solutions. If marijuana is such a lucrative industry here in B.C., the government should be swimming in cash.

#35 m0nkyman

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 11:06 AM

Seeing as drugs are such a huge part of our economy, we're seeing a fair whack of wealth from it already.

From increased home prices due to 5% of the housing stock being used for grow ops, to the spending effect of people having to replace stolen household goods on a frequent basis....

#36 Caramia

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 11:20 AM

Monkeyman this year's "Glass Half Full" award goes to you.
Nowadays most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891

#37 KublaKhan

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 03:04 PM

Edit

#38 G-Man

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Posted 29 March 2007 - 07:49 AM

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to pop in remind everyone that Vibrant Victoria is a place for open discussion of opinions on sometimes difficult issues. I know that there is sometimes a gravitation to think that posts in opposition are personal attacks.

Please try to think openly about issues (hey I am big offender on this somethimes myself) and refrain from discussing anything about the individual who posted the remarks.

Posts have been edited accordingly.

Thank you

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#39 gumgum

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Posted 31 March 2007 - 07:59 AM

Too bad it's only six beds...


Housing project will help at-risk First Nations youth
Three groups will transform Fernwood house into transitional residence

Louise Dickson, Times Colonist
Published: Saturday, March 31, 2007

Three First Nations groups have formed a partnership to develop a $1-million transitional housing project in Fernwood for at-risk aboriginal youth.

The six-bed facility will house youth, between the ages of 16 and 19, who have been in the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development, said Bruce Parisian, executive director of the Victoria Native Friendship Society.

"There's no support for these children once they leave the system," said Parisian. "More than likely, they're on their own and a large number end up on the street or into drugs or crime. For us, it's about lending our support during that crucial period of time when they're on the street."

In August, the federal government's Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative, the centrepiece of the National Homelessness Initiative, offered funding for projects to deal with homelessness, said Parisian.

"But nobody applied for the funding. We said, 'We can't let this money go. We have to make an attempt.'"

The friendship centre joined forces with Surrounded by Cedars, a non-profit organization delegated by the ministry to work with aboriginal children in Victoria, and the M'akola Housing Society. They came up with the resources to develop the proposal and have secured $400,000 in federal funding.

Last week, Victoria city council gave $300,000 from its housing trust fund to the project. Parisian expects the Capital Regional District's housing trust will also contribute $300,000.

Councillors Chris Coleman and Dean Fortin, who sit on the SCPI board, met with the provincial deputy minister of Children and Family Development to talk about operational support for the project.

"They agreed it was a good proposal and that would put ongoing support into core funding which shocked and delighted everybody," said Coleman. "The sale of the house needed to close quickly so the city cut the cheque."

The $1-million price tag works out to $133,000 per unit which has round-the-clock support. "And that's what's needed to target at-risk teens on the street who could suffer potentially from sexual abuse, predation or substance abuse. It's very worthy."

More than 50 per cent of children in care in B.C. are aboriginal. The 2007 homeless needs survey also showed a disproportionate number of homeless youth are First Nations, said Parisian.

The facility will have a family atmosphere with house parents. The young people will have their own rooms and their own space. Because they'll be attending school, they'll have the freedom to come and go.

"But there will be house rules regarding drugs and alcohol," he said.

How long someone can stay depends on the individual, said Parisian. A 16-year-old might be able to stay for two years, if needed.

The aboriginal agencies will use their resources to work with the teens. M'akola will help with the construction and renovation of the Balmoral Road house, which is now a special needs foster home. Surrounded by Cedars will probably be the referral agency for the project, said Parisian.

The friendship centre can support teens in addiction programs, one-on-one counselling and programs that promote healthy living styles. The centre will also look at employment training for youth through its partnership with Camosun College.

"Our goal is to have it open in September," said Parisian.


© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007

#40 Rorschach

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 09:49 AM

About three years ago I noticed how much the streets of downtown Victoria smelled like a urinal. It's probably been a problem before that, but I'd never felt any impact by the homeless until that point. Since then, their numbers have grown and it's got to be the #1 problem in downtown Victoria. Our beautiful city has lost a great deal of it's lustre because of these people and I think because our own "compassion."

We've got a homeless center and a soup kitchen on waterfront property downtown. We have the majority of the population in "sympathy" for the homeless giving them money or donating to charities to "support" homeless people. The local newspaper editorial opinion is that the downtown merchants are being cruel and petty for posting no trespassing signs and erecting bars and barricades on their entry ways and alcoves. Every local politician expresses the proper politically correct viewpoint of portraying a desire to "help". We've even spent a few million to purchase apartments for several hundred derilicts and set up a needle exchange for them. We're seriously discussing a safe injection site for them too. Even when they break the law, there is no punishment under the law even when the police do arrest them for crimes. I see no solution in the perpetuation of our compassionate methods. I see our solutions as enabling and encouraging homelessness.

How far backward do the good people of Victoira have to bend before they fall flat on their face? Where exactly is the tipping point?

I bring up this summary to introduce my idea for a solution to the problem of homelessness. Firstly, I do not accept that the problem's source is having no home. I believe the problem is primarily alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental illness. So, why isn't the problem addressed at the source -- as a medical problem? Everyone in Canada has the right to free medical care for necessary treatment. Why doesn't this apply to the homeless derilicts arrested hundreds of times and released? At what point is it that the government can force medical treatment upon chronic alcoholics, drug addicts and mentally ill people?

Under the laws already on the books, a police officer can take a person into custody when they pose a danger to themselves or others or are unable to care for their own safety. How long they can hold them is up to medical authority. Seems to me a homeless man arrested and released a few hundred times by the police meets this criteria. So, what we need is some medical authority to force treatment upon the worst of the worst causing most of the problems. Spending money on that is money well spent.

Since AA and every 12-step program is total bullcrap and does absolutely no good. I must insist that the approach be completely medical in nature.

The vast majority of our local homeless are ordinary alcoholics. I believe proper medical treatment that could be imposed involves a drug called [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naltrexone:cd379]Naltrexone[/url:cd379].

This type of treatment has a very good record of success. The recovery rate from AA is 5% -- the same rate of recovery from no treatment. Since AA is no better than no treatment at all, it makes no sense to impose that as medical treatment. Likewise the religious aspect of 12-step programs is highly undesirable as something you could legally force upon anyone.

The main point is that there ARE legitimate and effective medical treatments for alcoholism, drug addiction, and mental illness. Effective medications for all of these maladies are available and effective squarely within the bounds of medicine.

If we're going to spend any money at all on these bums, let's not waste it. Spend it on something legitimate that has a good possibility of success. Unfortunately, it has to be forced upon the homeless. The nature of their illness makes it impossible for them to choose voluntarily to get the medical help they need.

I think our leaders need to find a legal way to force a medical solution to this problem. At some point, such measures won't be needed. The problem of homelessness can be solved and once it is it can be solved forever. Enabling bad behavior only encourages more. I say we need to deal with it for real. It can be done legally and without "Draconian" measures.

I have not thought of everything of course. So I'm interested in people poking holes my idea. Can our discussion fill the holes? Can we all here collectively brainstorm and solve this problem? And then get our national leaders to act?

You're not quite at the end of this discussion topic!

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