Editor, The News:
Instead of spending $16 million on a new shelter, which amounts to about $1 million for every three homeless people, the province would be better off investing in regular housing.
Fixer-upper houses could be bought. Three to four homeless people could move in. With the welfare they are already receiving (a portion going to their home), their basic needs would be met.
They would receive additional income by doing projects to fix up the home they live in. Pay would be based on agreed milestones, not hourly.
When the renovations are completed, the homeless would be able to stay in the home for a period of time, then the house would be sold. Some of the proceeds would go back to the homeless who worked on it and the rest to the province to buy another fixer upper for the homeless to move into.
Addicts have trouble holding down a regular job. They have good and bad days and most employers aren’t tolerant of their unpredictable schedule. Working on their own home, at their own pace, allows them to still produce something of value. They would gain valuable skills and a sense of pride. They would have something to do everyday to keep them out of trouble while they work on getting their lives back in order. Many work harder than anyone for $10 dollars worth of pop bottles.
They will do the work given the opportunity.
To help keep them on track, from time to time, an outreach worker with some construction knowledge would drop by to see how they are doing and even lend a hand for awhile or teach them some new skill. It would provide opportunities for volunteers as well …
By getting homeless to work on homes they live in, the amount and quality of housing stock in our community will go up …