OTTAWA – A group of neighbours say the best way to battle chronic homelessness is to adopt a new ‘housing first’ model to fight it.
That group held a symposium in Ottawa on Tuesday to propose the model as an alternative to the Salvation Army’s mega shelter plans in Vanier.
Organizer Randell Bartlett told Ottawa Today with Mark Sutcliffe it has proven success in Alberta, with higher success rates (85 per cent) than shelters (20 per cent) for helping keep people off the streets.
“Put them in permanent housing without some sort of requirement to be housing ready or to take some transitional program. And then you provide intensive supports for those people.”
The option would also cost taxpayers less than shelters typically do, but it also spreads the responsibility of helping the homeless outside of a particular area of the city.
“You’re actually spreading them out throughout the community, so that they’re not stigmatized by living somewhere specific,” Bartlett says, “No community has to bear the entire burden of having a lot of people who are chronically homeless with mental illness and addiction.”
Understanding that the Salvation Army has been against making any adjustments to their proposal, the group is hoping their symposium was able to gain the attention of city officials and push the fight against homelessness in Ottawa in the right direction.
“We have cheaper, much more effective alternatives, but somehow we keep doubling down on something we’ve been doing for over a century but has been ineffective for that whole period of time.”