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Is Homelessness Deliberate Social Policy?

By Stuart Hertzog
September 27th, 2007

Governments have the resources to build social housing

Jack EtkinIn my opinion, homelessness is deliberate, not on the part of the homeless but on the part of the people who are running this country. No other explanation seems possible; the financial resources certainly are available.

Governments are running multi-billion dollar surpluses, but they’re using this money to hand out tax cuts that will further reduce future revenues. The ‘market’ is awash with money, yet the private sector consistently refuses to build affordable rental housing.

Corporate profit in 2005 was, I believe, a record $231 billion. Would Canadian corporations really notice if their annual profit was ‘only’ $230 billion?

One billion dollars a year could build 6,000 units of housing at a cost of $160,000 per unit. In just five years this would create 30,000 units of housing, fully paid for, which would house all the homeless in the country and probably help reduce rents for everyone else.

Yet the federal government has deliberately stopped building social housing. It used to build 10,000 to 15,000 housing units a year. Now, it builds just a small fraction of that.

Decision not to end homelessness

If the money is there, and the solutions to the homeless problem is obvious—build housing and give people the shelter and financial help they need—yet the people in charge will not solve the problem, then you have to think that a decision has been made somewhere that the problem of homelessness in Canada will not be solved.

Homelessness and poverty are increasingly destabilizing our society. They create huge demands on the already-frayed Canadian social safety net; they increase crime and drug use; and they damage the fabric of our communities.

In my opinion, this must be what the corporate and government élite wants.

Are we to believe that this has all come about ‘by accident’—that everyone is trying their best to deal with homelessness, but governments, with their multi-billion dollar surpluses, can’t build housing, and neither can the market? Or is it that they won’t?

Why are they doing this?

I’m not sure why they are doing this. It’s very hard for me to think the way these people think. It’s the same kind of thinking that uses depleted uranium weapons in Iraq and Yugoslavia, or deliberately poisons our food in order to maximize corporate profits.

Exactly who is running our country, and why are they doing these things?

In my opinion, Canadians do want the problem of homelessness solved. Yet if ‘our’ governments won’t do that, then are they really ‘ours,’ and if they aren’t, then who exactly are they working for? Certainly, not the homeless or those in need.

What do you think? I’m certainly open to criticism of these ideas.

Jack Etkin

Leadership Candidate 2007

BC Green Party


Posted in BC, Corporatism, social justice | 6 Comments »

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6 Responses

  1. Roger Benham Says:

    Quite right Jack. Who makes the decisions? Well clearly we now live in a corporate controlled “democracy”. Decisions are really made by the companies who finance politics not by the voters who are beguiled by political advertising and rhetoric.

    That’s why we will go down the tube and only when we’ve gone will investors realise the folly of their greed.

  2. Aaron Zacharias Says:

    I think there might be something deliberate going on here. It looks almost like a form of passive genocide, though I think the jury is still out about this. Still, with reduced social assistance rates and incredible bureaucratic hoops in place for getting on it, I would imagine that not only do our governments want to encourage people to find work, but they also want to punish those who don’t and also make of them a salutary tale to anyone else who won’t tow the line and end up stranded in meaningless minimum wage empoyment.

  3. Dagny Says:

    It’s one thing to provide housing for all the homeless people, but we also need to look at why these people are homeless in the first place. Do they have mental illnesses? If so, providing housing isn’t going to really help them. What about giving homeless people the tools to succeed? A house is a great place to start, but how are they going to feed themselves? Clothe themselves. Seems like we need to help in a lot more ways than building a house, we need to give people the tools to provide for themselves.



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  4. Treok Galaxy Walker Says:

    It’s more than obvious to me that the political parties of Canada and most, if not all countries , are not interested in food and shelter for all humans. The end of poverty.

    A year before his assasination, Dr. Martin Luther King jr. talked about ending poverty, and said in his opinion the best way to do that is the Guarnateed annual Income. I agree

    Within the last year, I wrote Elizabeth May and said I was interested in voting for the green party, but first I would like to know her personal opinion as well as the green party position on Guaranteed annual income. No response for a month, so I wrote again and told Ms. May even Jack Layton replied although he is a fascist, and that if I didn’t hear from her, I would assume she is also one of the good old boys. Again, no response.

    When I talk of livable income for everyone(L.I.F.E.)I’m not talking about some lame experiment of nine thousand dollars a year, I’m talking about $2,500.oo to $3,000.oo per month(per person living in Victoria B.C.). If we did that globally, it would be much cheaper than sending cruise missles around the world, and a lot more fun for the kids. And no more econonic slavery. That’s bad for the global elite.

    Of course,the weapons manufactures wouldn’t be crazy about the idea,and neither would most Canadians as CPP(canada Pension Plan)invests in 15 of the worlds top 20 weapons manufacturers. So I guess that’s why Eliabeth didn’t reply, cant go against the corporate elite if you wish to get elected.

    So Mr Jack Etkin, you sound like a caring person, but your party is in the hands of the elite, and they don’t get my vote, no matter what colour they call themselves.

    T Galaxy Walker

  5. Siren Says:

    Guaranteed Annual Income- our welfare system does offer below the poverty line income. My interest is income above the poverty line for all: citizens of all ages gender and belief systems. Specifically, how are single-parent moms and dads able to survive while costs on the Island are increasing. Of course, since our CPP invests so heavily in arms, why can’t those investment profits fund for higher guaranteed incomes for all needing Canadians alike? One could argue that using profits made from arms’ investments causes poverty, so what a better way to fund a Guaranteed Income Program for Canadians utilizing those funds. At least a realistic shelter allowance is manditory. I know this needs work, but I think there’s something here.

    Thankyou, please respond,


  6. Oemissions Says:

    The design of social housing is important. If they are built where there is high density auto traffic and little in the way of natural surroundings the social problems will continue.

    There must be options. Not standard types of social housing.

    Some people would do better in a group type home siuation where they participate in household chores and there is occupational therapy available.

    People loose their life skills for everyday living while out on the street.

    On one of the Gulf Islands a woman opened her home and property for the homeless. One young man took several months to be able to sleep in the house. He was used to concrete so he got the old milkhouse until he could go for an actual bed inside a house.

    There are a few senior housing complexes that were built in the 50s that offer versions of a workable solution: small units with a community meeting space with a lounge, kitchens, laundry and garden.

    But I still maintain that resources for occupational therapy need to be part of the program for this approach.And I would add courses in communication skills as well, such as Rosenberg Non Violence training.

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