Saturday, August 9, 2008

A society without homelessness

It would be a nice thing, wouldn't it? I don't know if it has ever been achieved in a country - if it has, then it is probably in some small, fabulously rich country like Switzerland, or an island with only 10,000 inhabitants. Taking the phrase another way though, many of us already enjoy such a society.

I stumbled upon this 2007 report from the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership, based in Calgary, which details the problem of homelessness in Canada, and provides wisdom on solving the problem from both policy wonks and homeless people themselves.

Homelessness is a hard problem to track, for the same reason that it is a hard problem to solve - these people don't have stable addresses. Nevertheless, according to the federal agency responsible for addressing homelessness, Canada had a homeless population of 150,000 in 2005, a figure that, according to the aforementioned report, may be between 200,000-300,000 today.

Taking the more conservative number, 150,000 represents roughly 0.48% of the Canadian population, or about 1 in every 200 Canadians.

Now, think about how many people you know personally - not your bosom friends, just people you've met whose names you can recall, and whom you might recognize if you saw them again. How many people is that?

Now think of how many people you know who are homeless.

I tried it myself.

I am very close to living in a society without homelessness.

And yet I live in a country with lots of it.

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1 comment:

Kelly said...

It's been great catching up on your blog after my period of no internet!