Ending Homelessness: Detailed Plan

The Frustration

There are over 1,700 people by the latest count in our city without a safe place to sleep every night, a place to call their own; 350 of these are children. In a city in a province in a country as wealthy as ours, as sophisticated as ours, and as blessed with peace and opportunity as ours, this is unacceptable. We should feel ashamed about this fact in our city. To put in perspective how embarrassing and disgusting this fact is, greater London, with a population of around 9 million, has approximately 2000 homeless people. This should make everyone of us outraged that people with the power to make serious changes on this issue have let it persist. Indeed, council’s most recent decision is to make a new plan, giving up on the current plan to end homelessness, two years short of its initial goal.

There are many reasons which make effectively and successfully tackling this crisis problematic, but the main one is that our city lacks accountability at the highest level. There is not one person on council pursuing this issue with the same vigour as we see with pursuing an increase to security in the council chamber. The whilom mayor is nowhere in any of these programs, nor are many of the original leadership committee members. The homeless commission was replaced with a committee from the administration, adding more bureaucracy. The professionals in mental health, addictions recovery, and family and abuse counselling feel alienated from the initiative by its bureaucracy. Finally, several of the councillors have been in their positions since the initiative was put into place, and not one is standing up now to see this through. The incumbent for Ward 6 speaks passionately about mental health, yet cannot present a plan to act on these impassioned claims. No one in council cares enough about this crisis to make this a serious initiative, and a second chance is something we, the electorate, should not be giving council.

Despite my objurgation, I do not think that the incumbent wishes to perpetuate this problem. Nor do I think the top levels of administration, the hard-working and underpaid professionals of our city’s various social agencies, the people at Homeward Trust or the other members of city council are just going through motions to pretend that there is a solution. I have seen first-hand that these people genuinely want to end this crisis. But many feel that the crisis will never be resolved. People say that the initiative cannot be sustained, cannot be adequately funded, needs many times the resources that are being allocated to it. We acknowledge that the current plan does not take into account factors such as in-migration, people who fail in the housing program and return to the streets and miss completely the spiritual component of healing necessary for many homeless people. Our city needs a real plan, from a real leader, who wants real results for very real people affected by this crisis.

The Current Reality

An interview with one key member of city administration told me that, “the goal was never really to end homelessness, but rather to finally have a plan in place to manage it.” This sounds pathetic, typical political babble that somehow excuses failure at handling a huge crisis in our city. However, it is also true. In 2007, when Churchill Square became a squatters’ village, council correctly made it a priority to figure out how to deal with this now-very-visible crisis; we had no plan. So, council created one, gave it a great deal of microphone time, set up a new bureaucratic arm of our city to manage it, and here we are today: eight years into a goal of ending homelessness in Edmonton in ten years, by 2019.

One well-respected senior social care professional told me that, “[the city] shot itself in the foot with a ten-year deadline because from day one we pegged our success to the participation of the province, the federal government, the support of community leaders, economic  and social situations around our province, all of which influence our ability to handle this crisis effectively.” Council, at that time, tried to make what the business world calls a S.M.A.R.T. goal – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-sensitive. But I do not think anyone making our homelessness plan knew much about goal-setting. Which is why their first order of business was to set up a new department of sorts to manage this initiative, to handle the funding, disperse it to the social organizations that directly interact with homeless people, all controlled and accountable. Council made the goal time-sensitive because it immediately delegated responsibility to another group of people, and recuse itself from responsibility. The spotlight was now on someone else for the results.

Many people involved in the initiative keep stating how complex the problem is, one that has socio-economic aspects that need attention, is so layered in its elements that there is no clear way to begin or carry on, without a whole bunch of other elements falling into place first. Common statements are: “we can’t deal with homelessness because the province doesn’t give us enough infrastructure money to build housing, nor do they provide enough resources for support staff to deal with the addictions and mental problems suffered by the homeless population that have made them homeless in the first place;” “the federal government hasn’t provided enough support for indigenous populations, which is their responsibility, not ours, so 75% of the homeless people in Edmonton shouldn’t be our responsibility to house and help;” “community groups and private individuals are vehemently opposed to social housing in their neighbourhoods, so we can’t call on the larger city for support, just the struggling inner-city communities.” These are comments from adherents to an unreconstructed ideology. An ideology whereby homelessness is not regarded as a crisis, but as a symptom of larger social issues that are interwoven and infinitely complex to attack. But it is this very ideology that is keeping the crisis a reality.

Meanwhile, the professionals who work with our homeless citizens are worn out, disillusioned about the support the city or the province will provide, disappointed by community opposition, and overwhelmed by the amount of people coming to Edmonton who end up needing their services. As told to me in an interview by a senior psychiatrist at Alberta Hospital: “our system is close to breaking, because we keep closing beds to mentally ill people, who end up on the street. [This means that] the same trained professionals who could be providing care in a hospital or clinic are now called to do emergency work in places that are dangerous and unfit for treatment.” The support for people currently being housed is inadequate, and the professionals involved do not receive enough of what they need to do their part in combatting homelessness.

The approach to end the crisis puts a disproportionate focus on building housing units. While subsidized housing can work, as in the case with Ambrose House, it is astronomically expensive, takes years to implement, and does not even come close to fulfilling the number of places needed to accommodate the homeless population in our city. An analysis of the Melcor YMCA village in Boyle Street, a project initiated at the beginning of the plan to end homelessness in 2008, shows the futility in funding building projects as part of the initiative to end homelessness:

  • the cost is $42.5 million for a 150-unit building, $36.5 million from provincial funding and $13 million from the city itself;
  • a private contractor built the building, had cost overruns, and delays. The building took eight years to complete;
  • although the units are for anyone who is in need of subsidized rent, very few are homeless. The mixed-use plan of the development does not attract the full gamut of people it anticipated, and already has internal issues with safety and cleanliness;
  • the result is that for $13 million invested, the city houses less than 20 formerly-homeless people. The city will have to contribute more to help maintain the property over the course of many years. Rejuvenating the surrounding areas is now hampered, aside from other social housing, as this project only further enforces the ghetto mindset of dealing with low-income people. There has not been a single project of this size to house the homeless.

The city’s homeless who have been helped by the initiative so far have mostly been housed through private landlords, and this is currently problematic. Many private landlords in the city have a “No E4C or Homeward Trust” policy because of the lack of support given to the tenants once in place. Tenants on social assistance are viewed as business deterrents, as there are known security problems for the property as a whole, as well as the extensive and costly destruction of a property. This means that a landlord’s property quickly degenerates and cannot be used as a profitable, competitive product in our real estate market. Each year, fewer and fewer landlords are interested in participating in the city’s initiative, and the remaining landlords who do participate often have sub-standard housing in areas of our city that do not provide vulnerable people with the proper community support and security they need to remain in these lodgings. While Edmonton currently has a crippling vacancy rate of over 8% (and this does not include many private, one-off suites advertised on places like Kijiji), very few landlords with space are willing to take on homeless tenants, compounding the difficulty in meeting the initiative’s ten-year goal. However, private landlords are the answer when we ask questions about supply and space, and we absolutely need their involvement to beat the crisis.

In order to turn this crisis around, and end homelessness, there are several things that need to change. There is the issue of the number of professionals able to offer the necessary support to homeless people once housed, which is the key to keeping them off of the street and beginning the recovery and stability process. There is the issue of how to ensure private landlords offer safe, clean, secure, and appropriate space to vulnerable people. There is the issue that the City of Edmonton has proven itself incapable of building and managing any project that is going to have a significant amount of units for homeless people without creating a ghetto. And, the larger issue of council recently admitting that they have no plan to help the 1,700 homeless people, people who administration loves to label “hard to house.” There is also the issue that most money given to combat the crisis is used to pay administrators, support staff, contractors who build mixed-use projects, with much of it not actually benefitting the homeless themselves. There is the issue that lifestyle support is only available for eighteen months at the most when there is a large body of case evidence advocating for at least three or four years of support in order to break a cycle of homelessness for most people. Finally, there is the issue of how we measure the homeless population and actually keep track of people who are in or have entered, the program.

Despite what some advocates of the successes our city has seen in dealing with the crisis so far, there is no way of keeping track of people who have already been through our homeless program but returned to the streets. There is plenty of talk about how we need to keep fighting the good fight, or how much we have already done to combat the crisis, but everyone in our ward has to continually watch out in public parks for needles, rubbish throughout the river valley, and making our downtown’s public spaces unappealing, dirty, while businesses shy away from looking at operating in this environment. We are not currently beating this crisis, so administration needs someone of accountability to tell them to stop the obstreperous dialogue.

The Way to End Homelessness: Adjustments to Meet Our 10 Year Goal

The first, and obvious, step to solving this crisis is to have someone take charge of it, to be responsible for its results, good or bad, and who is mindful of what must happen to realize this initiative through. I propose a new way of dealing with this crisis, which has been reviewed by many professionals associated with homelessness in our city, province, and even some feedback from abroad. These adjustments are immediate, and can effectively benefit the entire homeless population in a short period of time. This proposal is affordable, which means the city does not have to raise taxes or borrow money to see it through or wait for money from the provincial or federal governments. This proposal is long-term and holistic, having the capacity to handle other difficult city problems as well. And, this proposal is compassionate, addressing the real needs of 1,700 people, who are facing another winter outside, or at best in an LRT station. Finally, it is a proposal that clearly holds city council and administration accountable to what they say, where they spend our money researching and implementing, and for the true status of the crisis. I adjure consideration.

First, council absolutely needs to stop passing the buck on why there is a crisis. They need to acknowledge the very real fact that the province and federal governments are never going to fund the amount of residential units we need to deal with this crisis. We need to stop waiting, expecting that it will come, arguing why it hasn’t, and blaming them for more people coming into our city each year to seek help. Homeless people affect the citizens of Edmonton, so this needs to be acknowledged as a city problem that the city needs to deal with on its own. The homeless crisis in Edmonton needs to be confronted and solved with Edmonton resources as the mainstay of the initiative.

We further need to get out of the concept of building new housing, as this approach clearly does not work, is too costly and slow, and does not serve to truly solve any of the issues surrounding homelessness. Ghetto communities are myopic. These projects serve to further stigmatize people and creates the adverse reactions to such projects seen recently by the residents of Terwillegar Towne. So, we need to focus exclusively on using the current stock of housing, held by private landlords who are currently suffering the worst vacancy rate in over forty years. An 8% vacancy rate translates to over 15,000 units available right now in Edmonton. And, one absolute truth about homeless initiatives is that the “housing first” model works. It is the solution. Not to prepare people for housing, not to treat addictions, but to provide people with a home. The City of Edmonton needs to fully compensate landlords for space for a period of four years for each homeless person currently in our city.

Many people see this step as controversial in many ways, even the landlords themselves. I have spoken with a group of relatively small landlords in our town who, collectively, control about 30,000 units. These people have told me directly that they would never rent to a homeless person under our current structure. Some of their colleagues are hurting so badly with the vacancy rate that has been climbing over the past two years that they are considering selling whole properties at a loss, less they fall behind on loans and lose the properties in foreclosure or other seizures. But, with the adjustments that I had proposed, they would be amenable to providing their housing stock to aid in beating the crisis and keep professional, knowledgeable people in control of housing which could easily fall to people of questionable integrity, limited experience, and no concern for vulnerable people.

Landlords would receive 15% above current market rates for their properties, plus an additional sum each month to help with the costs of basic maintenance of the systems in their building (security, hallway and common cleanliness, drainage, heat, air conditioning, etc.) This allows landlords to feel comfortable entering into an agreement in the present and will ensure that they will be in the future when rental vacancy decreases and rental rates climb. This is how long-term viability of the proposal is ensured. Further, the funding is contingent on the landlord making very real improvements to the properties: installation of buzzers at doors and cameras which ensure the safety of all tenants; fumigations and pest control; electrical and water lines that are up to date, up to code, and are efficient in their delivery; and, whenever possible, the landlord now has some extra capital to hire an on-site property manager, which helps to control the stability, cleanliness, and viability of the property as an unobtrusive place in the immediate community. These measures now also help ensure that many problem-property, multi-unit buildings in Edmonton are held to a measurable standard, and can be regularly inspected and observed because many of the landlords that hold these buildings will be happy to take tenants with guaranteed rent for four years. Basic noise and rubbish bylaws are quick to enforce, criminals have a less easy place to hide, and, most importantly, the formerly homeless person is not alienated from society in a ghetto, but rather placed right into the midst of community, a key to helping the recovery of addictions and trauma. If a landlord fails to meet these conditions, the landlord is held liable for the entire sum of the rental agreement, the landlord is placed on a list to watch by not only bylaw but by the departments that provide subsidized housing. These terms help the landlord, the tenants, the community, and safeguard city funding in the long-term road to recovery of a homeless person. It also permanently punishes slum landlords, those responsible for some of the poorest and most difficult problem properties in our inner city.

What does this proposal look like financially, and why it matters to us, the taxpayers:

  • the city spends around $30 million annually for four years, a total of $120 million, and the homeless are housed in a relatively short time period. The figure is arrived at by the market rate of a single bedroom suite, $800, which would mean $920 for the landlord under this proposal. A further $250 per month is the maintenance payment. I have rounded this figure to $1,200. I have also used a figure of 2,000 homeless individuals, as many people think the previous homeless count was quite low. The actual cost of this proposal comes to $28.8 million each year for rent and maintenance costs. Keep in mind that some homeless people are family units, so a two-bedroom suite would house a family of three or four or even an elderly couple. This figure is, by all estimates, high, which is how people in government should be budgeting, anyway;
  • the emergency services are immediately relieved of over 30% of their calls, saving the city over $60 million in police costs alone, each year, for four years, for a total of direct savings to our city of $240 million over four years. Through rent alone, we are saving ourselves approximately $120 million just with the police budget (see below for the details on the police budget);
  • the province no longer has to give us money for infrastructure, but instead, helps by creating jobs for specialists to help the newly-housed people with their addictions. These jobs remain local for long periods of time, adding to community growth and helping to fuel the economy throughout the city;
  • no one area or place in the city is inundated with vulnerable people or subsidized housing groups, which means there is a far less likelihood of urban renewal costs in the future. Instead, communities find ways to adapt and incorporate these people into the surrounding cultural network.

The final step, which is the crux of the plan, is to approach the province with an intriguing proposal. If we return to the Melcor YMCA village scenario, the province funded $36.5 million for this project; the current government is all smiles about announcing $1.2 billion for infrastructure across the province, with approximately $480 million for projects in Edmonton. We will tell them to keep their money: do not put money into housing infrastructure development, where we have seen that most of the money benefits developers and administrators. Instead, we demand that they hire in upward of 400 new support professionals that are trained in mental health, addictions, home aid, family counselling, and the other various things that help vulnerable people heal and remain stable in their new environments. This is the major consideration of many landlords who refuse to rent to people with social problems, both low-income, as well as in homeless housing plans. If a landlord knows that there is an aid worker, available 24 hours a day, in close proximity to the formerly-homeless tenant to help during recovery, and help keep the property as a whole stable and functioning, with minimal impact on other tenants, the group of landlords with whom I spoke would not hesitate to offer their spaces for use by homeless clients.

The Results and Implications of this Plan

In very visible terms, all 1,700 people that currently make up the homeless count are efficiently housed. No more river valley camps, no more people wandering around downtown, no more people seeking every public place to hide from the cold and wash up in public bathrooms. And, a drastic reduction in petty crime, litter, and drug paraphernalia in our parks, on our streets, and in our rubbish. The need for safe injection sites is drastically reduced, as many people who need such sites will be housed and helped by addictions recovery specialists and other support workers.

Even more attractively, several examples from our own city have shown that, when people are given homes and support in this manner, there is a 70% chance that they will enter the workforce, and contribute to the growth and stability of local businesses. A discussion with members of the Jasper Place Wellness Centre have confirmed this formula as the key to their early success, and they have housed the most homeless people since the city’s initiative began. Local business leaders value our community and are keen to contribute to a winning proposal that helps the long-term viability and stability of their businesses. Some local businesses – Anthony At Your Service, Goodwill, and Icom Refrigeration are three with whom I have had conversations – spend a lot of effort and capital to specifically hire locally, as well as vulnerable people, helping people remain independent and become socially healthy.

The really good news about this proposal for the taxpayers, the citizens who are generally apathetic to initiatives that are socially-focussed and financially-worrisome, is that it is fiscally sensical and sound. There is no excuse for the city to require the citizenry to pay more in taxes. There are clear savings to our city’s other expenses that can be reallocated to be used in paying the rents required. This plan gives the genesis to accountability and financial prudence required in our economic times and history as a society. People of Edmonton will begin to feel renewed and well-deserved pride in their city, begin to trust the way that the city is run, and really believe that Edmonton is a wonderful city, the best place to call home like I do. This is not a simplistic approach, nor is it unrealistic. It is a very viable way to end the homeless crisis in our town, and I want this to happen more than any other problem with which our city is currently faced.

Common Questions

No one knows the cost of homelessness to our city, nor to the taxpayer. How do you know that this plan will save the city in costs to its other services, and we won’t be on the hook for those tax increases you so love to criticize?

I have had the pleasure of several interviews with senior members of our city’s emergency services, administration, parks services, as well as our provincial health divisions for ambulance service in our city. 66% of calls that pull our fire crews out of fire halls are instances in unsafe hotels and housing, as well as medical responses in public places. The fire department’s biggest problem in our city is with slum landlords, in whose properties an overwhelming majority of issues take place. The police service, which has detailed statistics, handled 164,168 medium- to high-priority calls in 2016, a third include issues of mental illness, and almost 90% of these calls can be categorized as dealing with the homeless crisis in some way. This is over 50,000 dispatch calls. Each call lasts, on average, 104 minutes, and involves some element of paperwork, follow-up, and often more than one patrol of two officers each. Though the costs are hard for the data team of the EPS to work out precisely, the conservative estimate is that each call costs $1,150. The police are spent approximately $63 million in 2016 “managing” the homeless crisis. That is, they devote over 12% of their entire operating budget to actions that have no long-standing benefit to the community. What a horrible ROI. And this is just the police! 66% of fire calls deal with unsafe housing issues, immeasurable ambulance incidents that the city has to pay for, countless park and maintenance staff hours cleaning, repairing, replacing, and managing the effects of homeless people on our infrastructure and parks and river valleys and public buildings. The incumbent has asked several times, “I wonder was the real cost of homelessness is?” The real cost is an absolute waste of hundreds of millions of dollars in current tax revenue, which translates to one reason for the 50% increase in residential taxes over the past decade, the same time period since we initiated our plan to combat the homeless crisis.

This proposal will absolutely be saving the city money, almost from the day it is implemented. 

You are favouring paying landlords, private businesses, out of taxpayer money. How is this fair?

It is the only solution that really involves the community, the key to helping vulnerable people remain off the street and on the path to healing and recovery. With this proposal, we have an opportunity to ensure that more of the city’s landlords are keeping their buildings in good stead, which means less fires, less bed bugs, less grimy buildings, and less places for criminals to hide. The larger community benefits when we use the current vacant housing stock.

Where will the money come from, if not from new taxes?

Reallocation of money that the city is currently spending. Instead of giving $20 million to the University of Alberta for ice rinks, ostensibly to be used by the citizens of Edmonton, we could have housed 1,500 individuals for a year, and realized the reduction of service costs for our emergency services and other costs associated with managing the crisis. We also have a surplus from last year’s budget, which we can use to kick-start this program.

How can you guarantee that landlords will stay with this proposal in the long term, say, when prices increase again?

By making contracts last for four years, and by offering higher-than-market rates. There are several landlords interested in this approach. Rental contracts for residential tenants are binding on provincial law, and many aspects of social housing are also subject to federal regulations, so there is a huge business implication for landlords who decide not to meet the obligations once entered into a contract.

Do you really think you can take all the homeless people and keep them off the street for good?

Yes! By approaching the crisis in this manner, we will be much better able to deal with the people that are falling through the cracks, as visibility will be so much easier, and much more clearly traced. Further, many of the social agencies currently working under Homeward Trust have been advocating for this shift in ideology for years.

Social agencies will put up resistance to such a proposal, as it means that they will no longer have a purpose. You are removing the very reason that they get paid, so why would they support such a plan?

Social agencies want to deal with the root causes for homeless, the actual problems of broken families, addictions, detecting patterns of instability, spiritual neglect. All of the agencies and societies in our city want the crisis and its aspects to be beaten. This approach helps the real problem, the social causes for homelessness, which is exactly what we are not able, and will never be able to reach, without such a proposal.

Even the best models do not show that homelessness can be eliminated, and people have been actively trying for the past thirty years. What makes you think it will work this time?

Serious accountability, and continuous pressure on the province and other key players for results. No one has ever taken personal responsibility for this endeavour. Many people want it to happen, work very hard in the current model, and many politicians and public figures for community and business in the past love waving for photographs, but do not take any measure of accountability for the current initiative. When someone puts their personal skin in the game, there is nothing that compares to the drive to succeed than that. The city’s skin needs to be fully integrated in this initiative. And no model for ending homelessness has ever had real skin involved in combatting the crisis.

What about near-homeless individuals, and the current homeless housed under the old plan? What will you do about these people?

Social agencies slowly ween people off of these services and into a more stable solution. This is what they do very well, when they are relieved of managing a crisis.

You over-simplify the problem of homelessness, as it is a myriad of interconnected problems and social issues.

No! Homelessness is very basic, as countless research reports have indicated and many social states have demonstrated (like Finland and Sweden). When you give people a home, they are not homeless. And, the first step to being able to make headway against addictions, mental issues, social insecurity, abuse, and domestic violence, is to provide people with their own place, their own safe place, where they can finally get a peaceful sleep, where they can store their belongings, where they can wash and use the toilet, where they can focus and study and see the larger world around them, where they can begin to have meaningful, healthy and helpful relationships with other citizens in the city, and visualize a change for themselves and our community at large. This is a simple problem. It is not easy, and it is not tidy, but it is simple. Give homeless people a home.

The current councillor has worked tirelessly in this plan, and knows far more details than you. His passion is mental health, and he already has experience working with our current model. What do you think you can do differently?

Aside from actually holding myself and other people accountable for results and the very premise of the housing first approach, the current councillor’s vision is not only limited in its scope, but it is positioned in the traditional model that our city finds itself: let’s build some housing with grant money. This past February saw city council, again, asking for more information on how to end homelessness, without acknowledging the current plan’s weaknesses and successes, without taking accountability of this crisis in any way. This approach has proven to fail more times than it has been successful, and our city council has proven that it cannot remain committed to any plan, except throw around money for research and analysis.

Further, key front-line professionals feel alienated, and lack trust for council’s support. In the course of my interviews with many people involved in the homeless crisis, people dealing with mental health have said that they feel that they are neither respected nor heeded when discussing this crisis, and that the administrative branch of Homeward Trust has now become the deciding factor of what help should and should not be given through various agencies. We cannot afford to have people, who work very long hours at low pay, specifically trained and who have studied issues surrounding homelessness, to be alienated from our efforts to solve this crisis. We need them more than ever, so to have a councillor who is not respected or trusted by the very people we need to implement this plan is disastrous in the long-term.

Finally, I am a landlord, and none of the councillors are. I have made connections with landlords already, and know from personal experience how the business of property management works. I know far better the ways of making a contract and lease agreements with such a program than any of the councillors, I know how to better vet and evaluate specific aspects of properties than the current councillors. I have also proven, as past president of Eastwood Community League, that I can turn institutions around from the brink of destruction to successes. While I am absolutely open to our current city council taking this proposed plan and using it to end homelessness, I neither think they will, nor do I think they would have the accountability necessary to really see this through to the end.

What makes you think the province will hire 400 support workers, just because you say they will? This is a key part of your plan, and your plan, by your own admission, will not work unless this happens? Where is the “Edmonton needs to handle this on its own” approach now?

This is a valid criticism, and it is true that, the entire plan is crucial to the province reallocating their funds for more workers as well. I have already met with a few ministers of our provincial government. In the course of our discussions, I have been told that, “If the City of Edmonton comes to [the Province] with a proposal on how to better use funding, we will seriously consider it.” The province is also looking for very real ways to improve the lives of Albertans, and presented with a plan that can show clear steps, very easy steps, to making a huge difference, is something that governments, as well as banks and large corporations, love to see. A presentation by the city will ensure we get this support. Further, many of the people currently sitting in government positions have come from careers in social work and medical care, where these type of approaches have been advocated by them for years. The government is currently made up of people who are eager for new approaches to solving some of societies most basic and pervasive problems.

There is also an element of sales psychology in this approach, which is far less tangible or statistically supported, but known in business circles to work: posture. If we, the City of Edmonton, commit to paying $120 million dollars to house 2,000 of societies most vulnerable people, and we publicly state that we neither need nor want infrastructure money, but that we want the province to use the funds to create 400 jobs, I find it unlikely that the province will decline and do nothing. The fall-out would be a major problem for them to face, and in the face of the next election, would weaken their support among the most ardent of their followers.

When people are housed, how are they going to get furniture? Cleaning products? Food? Clothing? Medicines? Who will be paying for all of that?

this is an element of the current initiative that does work, in that these supports are provided through other funding arms of the provincial and federal governments. There is no reason to think that this would change. However, when reallocating city funds comes in to play, I am sure that we could include furniture costs and donations in the plan as these issues arise. Chattles, to people in real estate profession, are not that expensive or difficult to acquire.

Your example of social housing by the city is flawed, as Boyle Street has refurbished an entire building devoted to homeless people, and has housed several thousand since 2008.

True, but Boyle Street is a private company, not public money. And, they have to contend with managing the property in perpetuity, something that is not in their bailiwick nor their area of expertise. And, they spent astronomical amounts of money in maintenance, repair and upkeep, taking away resources they could otherwise use to help prevent homelessness. Further, they have housed many homeless, not several thousand. Edmonton still has 1,700 people living on the street. Boyle Street and Jasper Place Wellness Centre cannot be expected to battle this crisis on their own, especially when there is so much community opposition to the projects that they propose to the city.