It’s good that the city is opening up more shelters for homeless people. No one should have to live on the street in winter or summer.
More should be opened up right now and governments should deal with some of the issues that make people not want to go to shelters: the refusal to take pets, partners, and shopping carts, for example.
But when you look at the costs of shelters versus housing, the results are amazing. According to a November news release from the Ministry of Housing and Social Development (welfare), the government budget for its Emergency Shelter Program is about $50 million in 2008. This money funds 1500 emergency shelter beds. Now let’s do the math: $50 million divided by 1500 = $33,333. Now divide the $33,333 by 365 days in a year, and you get $91.32. That’s the cost of a shelter BED per day: $91.32.
Last year CCAP learned that developers could build a new 400 sq. ft self contained apartment for a rent of about $1200 a month or $40 a day. Let’s see now, if the government spent $40 a day for a unit of good, new housing for a homeless person, it could afford an additional $50 a DAY on support services before the good housing and support would cost more than a shelter bed. So yes, we need those temporary shelters because the housing isn’t built yet, but why isn’t the government rolling out a housing construction program with health supports so it can SAVE BIG BUCKS?