Editorial: Thoughtful solutions are essential to help house the homeless

The Province
October 24, 2006

Helping the least fortunate is one of society’s greatest responsibilities. And it is one of the best reasons for paying taxes to various levels of government.

But housing the homeless in Vancouver is a complex issue not easily solved by simplistic solutions. And the situation is not improved by political zealots, seized with self-righteous fury, staging an illegal protest and using the 2010 Winter Olympics as a convenient scapegoat.

Experience has shown that, when it comes to helping the mentally ill, the drug-addicted and the down-and-out, it is easy to screech and shout — and far harder to come up with prudent, workable solutions.
That is why Vancouver city council’s decision last week to defer a vote on a moratorium on the conversion of single-room residential hotels was a wise one.

Certainly, the city’s private landlords should not be forced to accept all the responsibility for housing the homeless (or be expected to operate without the prospect of a reasonable return in an area ripe for development).

That is the job of the various levels of government and the many non-profit agencies dedicated to helping the poor.

The activists, too, should be encouraged to help solve a problem years in the making — long before the Olympics were on anybody’s radar screen.

Persistent yelling and screaming only makes matters worse.