The long-term solutions City Council doesnt want to hear on Homelessness

With the Times Colonist reporting that City Council doesn't want to hear about long term solutions to homelessness at their upcoming town hall I thought I'd publish some comment I had been preparing; They're rough, not all workable, but hopefully helps folks to understand some of the issues we have to discuss if we're going to solve this crisis. Repeated bouts of criminalization and "quick fixes" are doomed to failure and waste both the City and advocate's resources on court challenges and needless harassment of our citizens.


In the spirit of truth to power; 


Initiatives to improve market affordability by creating market supply. 

  1. End the CRD urban containment boundary.
  2. Eliminate DCC's that are not directly attributable to a project.

  3. Eliminate new development/business parking requirements.

  4. Eliminate the extortive phrase 'amenity package' from council vocabulary.

  5. Reduce the number of zoning types from 628 zones to a handful representing residential, urban, commercial, and industrial zones.

  6. Eliminate zoning variance and spot zoning practices.

  7. Reduce the tax mill rate on residential units with assessments less than 1 million.

  8. Enact use-it-or-lose-it bylaws that require an occupation or active development permit or face speculation taxes.

  9. Have council set development policy, have staff enforce approval/rejections. End public hearings and council involvement in the approval of every shed built in the city. Return to a concept of strong and well-defined property rights and allow civil courts, not council, to deal with nimby/banana related disputes.

  10. Pay developers a bonus for every unit they create equal to 10% of the new taxes that will be generated for 10 years. (Incentives for creating newly taxable value)

  11. Improve transit options to allow for car-free living and eliminate parking costs.


Initiatives to deal with core causes of homelessness. 

  1. Safe consumption/injection site paired with well-funded rehabilitation programs.

  2. Self-exclusion programs for liquor retailers.

  3. Institutional care options for the most severe mental health issues when related to repeated criminal convictions.

  4. CrASBO (Criminal Related Anti-Social Behaviour Orders) framework for repeat-offender cases of theft, vandalism, intoxication in public, etc. End the revolving door cycle of arrest, release and re-offending for minor crimes.

  5. Greater funding for fiscal self-sufficiency programs. (Education in money management)

  6. Work-Ready programs to ensure everyone has valid identification, a social insurance number, up-to-date tax filings, bank account access, and access to clean clothing and personal hygiene services. Assist with filing bankruptcy and achieving a 'clean-slate' where applicable.

  7. Casual/At-will labour opportunities within the city; work opportunities based on a single days' effort or based upon a unit of production. Can do better than collecting refundable cans. Seek claw-back waivers from welfare programs to allow retention of benefits while doing a minor level of qualified casual work.

  8. Public outreach programs to tell citizens of Victoria not to give to panhandlers, and highlight better donation opportunities for the same charitable $, food banks, our place, etc.

  9. Adopt a case-management approach to each person experiencing homelessness -- tailor personalized solutions and interventions appropriate to each individual. Start with chronic criminal reoffenders.


Initiatives to deal with youth and young-adult homelessness.

  1. Fund more young-adult care options. Too many at-risk children age-out-of-care and are thrown to the streets with no safety net or supports.

  2. Better funding for social work programs for in-home interventions to deal with parental abuse, mental health and addictions issues.

  3. Positive youth opportunities for casual community contribution and paid work.

  4. Create stable and appropriate market housing opportunities for families.

  5. Deal with sources of societal and family marginalization including supports for LGBTIQ youth.

  6. Fund more anti-bullying/harassment programs and support systems for victims of this behaviour.

  7. Better Integrate community policing and restorative justice programs in a way that allows youth to see policing and social workers as friendly and in-partnership rather than always in a disciplinary/negative interaction setting.

  8. Provide better self-learning opportunities for literacy, numeracy, and computer skills. Provide a free and self-paced path to cognitive employment and a dogwood diploma.

  9. Provide free pathways to pardon services for the rehabilitated. Allow young-adults to escape the stigma of their past actions and achieve a 'clean slate' upon which to build.

  10. Ensure there are market housing options that are affordable (30% = $680/mo) of a median individual salary. ($27,200/yr @ 2013)


Initiatives to deal with the symptoms of homelessness

  1. Chattels protection. (Lockers placed throughout the city with time-release locks where homeless can place belongings for a period of time, and with a disclaimed expectation of privacy enforced by user-agreement such that police can search as appropriate)

  2. Post-office box services where homeless can receive mail. An address is core to receiving many government and employment services.

  3. Basic tenting platforms with bike/chattels lockers in city parks experiencing camping. Usage by permit available at homeless shelters and needs tested. Can revoke permits for those who offend the social order (eg public-view drug use, chattels not within tent or locker, etc). To reduce the security/neighbourhood impact, a maximum of 6 individual platforms/acre should be targeted. Tents must be taken down during the day, but may be stored in park lockers. Tents (see red-tent campaign design) would be supplied with the permit and only the approved tents may be used on the platforms.

  4. A public washroom station (including a shower), sharps container and emergency call station placed in every city park.

These are just a few additional ideas, and aren't intended as a replacement for the valuable and needed contributions of affordable & project housing, homelessness supports and councilling services provided by dozens of organizations throughout our town.