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Is Homelessness Deliberate Social Policy?

By Jack Etkin
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 »