The concerns raised by the homeless regarding the quality of services offered by the shelter system have been on the agenda for several years. In January 2011 a homeless man was charged with homicide when he used a snow plow to run over a police officer. This was another catalyst to review the system and see how mental health and homelessness be better served.
6 years later, we realize that we haven’t gained much grounds. The number of people living on the streets is climbing and the strategies to rehouse them are dwindling. Funding is scarce and the facilities hosting men, women and youth are quite inadequate.
Non Violent Crisis Intervention training in itself is not the answer. It is the quality and emotional state of the people applying these principles that matters. Overcrowding and lack of resources (people) are direct contributors to the quality of service. There need to be better pay and working conditions for those who are at the front lines. If law enforcement is not a viable response to the behaviours and unsafe situations that warrant an immediate intervention, then the City and key stakeholders have to identify a strategy to address the lack of options to keep everyone safe.
Only then will we see a change in this very acute crisis situation.
Read the Globe and Mail article by Jesse Winter, published Jan. 14, 2018: It's safer out here