Saturday, May 14, 2011
Sidewalk sleeping in Toronto
I'm with a Jeckel-and-Hyde Toronto this week. Like many successful cities, in some places there are vibrant and hip streets that absolutely fizzle with energy. In others, the homeless and indigent remind us nowhere is perfect.
Homelessness shows up in my SafeGrowth blogs on Vancouver, Seattle, and Houston.
I've also posted local solutions to homelessness in Portland and Colorado.
Walking downtown Toronto this week I saw more absolute homelessness than I've seen in a long time in this city.
In 1998 mayors across Canada declared homelessness a national disaster. Since then it hasn't improved. In many other countries, like the US, it is even worse.
In 2008 the University of Ottawa's Institute for the Prevention of Crime published a study called Homelessness, Victimization and Crime: Knowledge and Recommendations - a rather sterile title that seems to understate the tragic drama of an ignored person asleep on a sidewalk grate.
Luckily the report thoroughly lays out the dimensions of homelessness for Canada and urban places everywhere.
It reveals how homeless people are more likely to become involved in, and victims of, crime (mostly minor crime like public disorder). And while many homeless are incarcerated, a high proportion suffer from mental disorders and addictions rarely treated in the prison system.
The report offers up solutions like housing, shelters, social assistance, mental health treatment, and addiction programs. It offers controversial solutions like repealing laws that prohibit children with behavioral problems from attending mainstream schools. (It's those same kids who end up on the street.)
Sadly, as a walk in downtown Toronto and most other large urban cities confirms, four years after their report too many downtown streets are still the home of sidewalk sleepers.
Solutions on the page do nothing for tragedy on the stage. We need to do more.
Read their report HERE.
[NOTE: SafeGrowth's host site, Google's Blogger, has been offline this week for repairs]