I got an email from an individual who had visited the homeless in abbotsford site and was working, himself, on trying to get something done about the homeless situation. (Quick aside – he offered any help he could to me – even something as simple as laundry, which I may need to accept in order to dry out dampness from our weather. Anyway, thank you sir for you kind offer). He did note that he expected that Abbotsford Mayor George Ferguson would say it was a provincial responsibility and the city had no money for doing anything. Mr. Ferguson et al: recall the words on Charles Dickens as expressed through the character of Marley “Business! Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
Which calls to mind the ‘Mankind is our business’ of the Rotary organization.
But let us set aside the moral bankruptcy of focusing on the question of dollars and cents and just address the question of city spending on homelessness. REALITY: the city is currently spending thousands, more likely HUNDREDS of THOUSANDS of dollars on homelessness. Every time the police stop to wake up and move on a sleeping homeless person the city is paying salary for the time spent moving – often over and over – the homeless. This is true for every call or interaction the police have with the homeless. Haul them to jail – more dollars added to the amount spent on homelessness. Something needs clean up? – more dollars. Dollars and more dollars spent in numerous and varied ways adding up and up and up. But these costs are hidden in other budgets so those who fail to think just say “no money” to spend on homelessness – as if they were not already spending hundreds of thousands. Remaining with just the police. The police department claims it needs more resources to deal with the local gang situation and with the gang shoot outs in public places all over the news they may well get it. But – I wonder just how many more resources they would have available Right Now for dealing with the gangs, before these gangs grow in power and trouble caused, IF they were not required to spend all that time moving the homeless from spot to spot. Because all you do is move them from spot to spot, over and over again, until you begin to address the underlying needs.
So the city is currently spending hundreds of thousands in direct costs and incurring all kinds of hidden costs (things that do not get dealt with because of the need to spend time dealing with the homeless situation) on homelessness. And what is it getting? What is accomplished? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. The ranks of the homeless continue to grow. And why does all this waste occur? Lack of leadership. In this day and age it seems that leadership consists of finding out which way the wind blows, the mob is heading or what the public believes and getting out in front, into the so-called lead. This is NOT leadership. Leadership is studying the real situation, seeing what has to be done and even if unpopular doing it. Leadership is standing in front of the crowd and saying this is the wrong way to go, explaining why and where the crowd needs to go/be doing and LEADING the way to dealing with the actual problems. Those who are in the public eye who have pretensions of being leaders need to keep in mind what real leadership is about. There is enough smoke and mirrors used by the politicians on the question of the homeless that we do not need any more. What we do need is real, thoughtful leadership.
Just remember that we are already spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in dealing with the fallout from the homeless situation. It is just that currently all that money is WASTED on the symptoms of the problem rather than being invested in dealing with the problem. So if you are tired of the old ‘money down the drain’ way of operating, demand a little really leadership on the homeless. If the politicians continue to prefer to be obstacles and refusing to be leaders in this area, well it is time to find and rally around someone willing to lead. Someone who is not about a popularity contest or what they believe is the case, but about looking at what is and what needs to be done.