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The average cost of homelessness ranged from just over $29,000 per person in Moncton to a high of $59,000 in Toronto.
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Wendell (Woody) Cormier, a paranoid schizophrenic homeless man from Toronto, got up to the microphone last Thursday and told the audience bluntly, "If you force a man to stay outside and freeze to death, and then blame the cold; it's like making a man walk the plank and blaming the water for him drowning."
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The cure for chronic homelessness is so obvious, you almost don't want to say it out loud.
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"It wasn't like one day I woke up and I was homeless. Every year things just got tighter and tighter, it was just that one more step down the ladder."
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Mayor Ted Clugston of Medicine Hat, Alberta has become the reluctant spokesperson for a controversial approach to reducing homelessness. Reluctant because just a few years ago, he opposed the initiative. Sometime in 2015, Medicine Hat will become the first municipality in Canada to eradicate homelessness.
Shelters and soup kitchens haven't demonstrated an ability to provide long term solutions for the majority of chronically homeless people. They should be an integral part of alleviating homelessness, but they don't have the financial capacity to solve the problem on their own. Moreover, it isn't fair to let City residents bear the entire cost.
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Something largely overlooked by wide media coverage of the federal government's Economic Action Plan 2013 was that it marked a significant change in the way we will tackle homelessness in this country. The policy lens dramatically shifts from supports for "helping the homeless" to "ending homelessness."
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