Homelessness a ‘significant burden’ on healthcare system - analysis

The affordability crisis in Canadian real estate has already passed the point of being just a matter of what city one would prefer to live in, as it has become a life-and-death issue for those who are forced to stay in substandard emergency housing.
 
In a breakdown piece for CBC News, Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness president/CEO Tim Richter and Upstream founder Ryan Meili outlined the grim tableau that characterizes the country’s emergency shelters at present.
 
“[The shelters] are packed to the rafters. People are languishing in homelessness longer, and their ranks include seniors, veterans and families with children,” Richter and Meili wrote. “Shamefully, Indigenous Canadians are more than 10 times more likely than non-Indigenous people to end up in emergency shelter.”
 
“One of the biggest factors that determines whether people will stay healthy or wind up needing emergency or chronic medical care is where they live. People without access to stable housing are at higher risk of illness, and their likelihood of recovering well from that illness is greatly diminished,” the analysis added.
 
Per figures from the latest National Shelter Study, approximately 35,000 Canadians are homeless at any given night. Estimates of the annual number of homeless people exceed 235,000.
 
The situation is such that “physicians have gone so far as to label homelessness a palliative diagnosis.”
 
“Not having a home can be lethal. Homelessness causes premature death and poor health,” according to the duo. “The crisis stands to get worse before it gets better, as federal operating agreements for older social housing expire and more than 300,000 more households risk losing the subsidies that keep their housing affordable.”
 
And while Richter and Meili are one in the belief that an effective housing strategy is necessary to ensure that every Canadian has access to safe and affordable housing, the absolutely massive scope of the issue “when set against political and fiscal realities will force the government to make some difficult choices.”
 
“To make the difficult choices ahead, the government should take a page from medicine and triage,” the duo stated.

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