A great article today by Sue-Ann Levy of the Toronto Sun helped summarize everything that is wrong with the social housing plan in the city of Toronto.
In her article she discusses her visit to the new shelter dubbed the “Homeless Hilton” which goes into detail the exorbitant cost overruns that this project has had.
The numbers that concerned me we more about the staff than the construction costs.
This is a 40 bed transitional shelter that will be staffed by at least 30 social workers and staff. Aside from the $11.5 million dollars to create this shelter, it will cost taxpayers an additional $3.3 million a year to operate.
Let see, at least 30 staff for 40 beds, means almost 1 worker per homeless guest (what else would you call someone staying in a luxury hotel). I don’t know professional butlers that tend to so few clients.
$3.3 million to operate means that yearly with 30 staff (or more) and 40 homeless guests works out to be $47,000 per person per year that are in the shelter. Although those costs include maintenance, food, staff salaries…still $47,000, really?
There is a quote that has been around forever in regards to medicine; “there isn’t any money in the cure, only in the medicine”. There are variations of the saying but the underlying message of it is, nobody wants to cure the disease because, companies will go out of business.
The homeless problem in Toronto as the same problem.
The city of Toronto spends anywhere from $161 million to $200 million a year for social initiatives for the homeless. There is a spread in those numbers because some of it is intertwined with other city initiatives that don’t deal with the homeless.
So let’s use the number $150 million for the homeless. This number includes social workers, shelters, and initiatives to help the homeless such as outreach programs.
In the last survey that the city conducted of homeless people in Toronto, the survey found approximately 5,000 people are living on the street.
In taking out my trusty calculator, that works out to be $30,000 per homeless person. A quick judgment call would say ‘let’s give everyone on the street $30,000 and get them into apartments and the problem is solved’.
Now I know it’s not that easy but realistically, it’s a thought.
The problem then becomes, what happens to the complete infrastructure you’ve built to solve the homeless problem. If they all find homes, it means all the city employees become unemployed. What about all the organizations that work to end homelessness? OCAP, United Way, Raising the Roof, Eva’s Initiatives, Red Cross, Salvation Army, the Wellesley Institute, these are huge organizations that would see job losses if homelessness was eliminated.
You even start to doubt the numbers that come out from these organizations; the city of Toronto claims to have found homes for 2400 people from 2008-2009, Eva’s Initiatives ”helps over 2300 homeless and at-risk youth to get off the street”, if so many are being helped, how come there is no dent in the numbers?
One reason is that the word is out about Toronto and how we will take everyone under our wing. People save up bus fare to come to Toronto knowing that the city will ultimately take care of them.
It’s time to stop throwing money to organizations to keep the social industry afloat. Spending $11.5 million on a 40 bed downtown shelter with an annual budget of $3.3 million; not money well spent. Spending upwards of $200 million annually for what has been counted to be 5,000 homeless residents; not money well spent.
I bet if you cut the funding and the government grants, you will find homelessness start to improve so that the industry can move onto another cause to get their funds from somewhere else.
from your own site.