Housing is a basic human right
The United Nations has named housing a basic human right.
Every nation has a duty to prevent homelessness, prohibit forced evictions, address discrimination, focus on the most vulnerable and marginalized, ensure security of tenure to all, and guarantee that everyone’s housing is adequate.
The UN says Canadians are paying the price for homelessness.
The UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing reports Canada’s lack of action to address homelessness has a high cost for society not only in moral but also financial terms.
The solution: putting Housing First.
Without an affordable home, how can you recover from an illness? Tackle a substance use issue? Go back to school? Get a job? Grow old in dignity?
It is no wonder the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario, the City of Toronto, the Mental Health Commission of Canada, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health – in fact, all credible Canadian mental health and housing experts — endorse a Housing First policy.
Housing First means:
- Immediate access to housing with no housing readiness conditions
- Consumer choice and self-determination
- Recovery orientation
- Individualized and person-driven supports
- Social and community integration.
It’s what supportive housing has been doing for years. Because – as the founders of the supportive housing movement have known since the 1970s – housing really does come first.
Supportive housing saves us all money
Supportive housing costs $25 – $31 per day.
- A bed in a shelter costs $61 per day
- A bunk in prison costs $143 per day
- A psychiatric inpatient bed costs $665 per day
Where would you rather live? What would you rather pay for?
It’s too costly to do nothing
In Toronto, 5,253 people are homeless.
According to Toronto’s most recent Street Needs Assessment, 5,253 people were homeless on the night of April 17, 2013. The number sleeping outdoors was 24% higher than in 2009.
Ninety-three per cent said they wanted to get into permanent housing. Sixty-five per cent said housing supports would help them keep a home. Thirty-two per cent said mental health supports would help.
It will cost approximately $8 million to deal with Toronto’s overcrowded shelters.
In January 2015, Toronto shelters serving single women were 97% full. Those serving single men were 95% full, and co-ed shelters were 98% full. These figures do not include homeless people who find shelters too unsafe or too restrictive to stay there.
This spending will give homeless people a roof, but not the home that leads to stability and health.
Our prisons are filled with people with mental illness.
People with mental illness now make up 36% of our prison population, and has been on the rise.
Too many people simply cannot afford a place to live.
The average rent for a bachelor apartment anywhere in Toronto is $899/month. But the maximum rent allowance for a person on disability is only $479.
Even for full-time minimum wage earners, the average bachelor apartment would be 53% of their monthly income.
The vacancy rate for bachelor apartments in Toronto: 1.3%. The vacancy rate in a healthy rental market: 3%.
Our hospitals and ER rooms are full.
This is the price of homelessness. It’s a price we can’t afford.