• What goes through your mind when you hear the word homelessness?
  • What do you think are the causes of homelessness?
  • Do you ever give money to the homeless? Why?/Why not?
  • Do you think the homeless are worth helping to?
  • Are there any solutions to this problem?



destitute — without money, food and the other things necessary for life

When he died, his family was left completely destitute.

the destitute

to live from hand to mouth — to have just enough money to live on and nothing extra

a beggar — a person who lives by begging for money

cardboard box city — an area of a city in which homeless people sleep rough, often in cardboard boxes.

antisocial behavior

dysfunctional families — неблагополучные семьи

alcohol or drug abuse

to afford housing

housing — houses, flats/apartments, etc. that people live in, especially when referring to their type, price or condition

public/private housing

to be out of reach — вне досягаемости

to suffer from mental illnesses

mortgage payments — ипотечные платежи

a victim of domestic violence


How to solve the problem?

Article (abridged)

Homelessness is not necessary. Unlike most other urban social problems, homelessness is something policymakers actually know how to address. The U.S. and Britain have slashed their rates of homelessness during the past decade. But in Canada, homelessness is on the rise; and in the Vancouver region, the official count of homeless persons almost doubled from 1,121 souls in 2002 to 2,174 in 2005.

Homelessness is not cheap. Provincial taxpayers spend up to $40,000 annually per homeless person, according to a 2001 study. That money is spent on police calls, hospital visits and other emergency social services.

Housing them all would cost less than half that much money, and numerous studies show that people who live indoors go to jails and hospitals far less than people who live on the streets..

This essay highlights seven solutions to homelessness.

Each of these ideas is working somewhere.

Each is affordable, in that they will cost taxpayers less than the $86.9 million a year now being spent just on survival rather than solutions.


policymaker — a person responsible for or involved in formulating policies, especially in politics

to address — to think about a problem or a situation and decide how you are going to deal with it

to slash — to reduce something by a large amount

to slash costs/prices/fares, etc.

to be on the rise

to highlight — to emphasize something, especially so that people give it more attention


One: Trade Fairs for the Homeless

Ask any homeless person why they are living on the street, and one theme will inevitably emerge: they were unable to navigate the maze of programs and procedures intended to help. The same bureaucracy that frustrates all of us can utterly stymie those of us with mental handicaps or drug addled brains.

In the fall of 2004, a group of homeless advocates in San Francisco tried an experiment. They rented a local convention hall, persuaded nearly every social service provider in their city to set up a table, and opened what amounted to a trade fair for homeless people. In addition to information about every short- and long-term housing program available in the city, Project Homeless Connect provided clothing, shoes, free phone calls, counselling, medical treatment, dental care, eye exams and glasses, benefits information, government identification cards, and more. There was live music, free food, and, yes, even secure valet parking for shopping carts, so that clients could wander the aisles without fear of having their few possessions stolen.

Project Homeless Connect was so successful in enrolling new clients into existing social service programs, that San Francisco now convenes the event six times each year. Homeless participants report that they feel respected and safe at the event. (This is particularly relevant for Vancouver, where many homeless people — especially women — avoid visiting social service offices in the downtown eastside for fear they will be robbed.)


Idea Two: Raise the Welfare Rates

You don’t need another study to know most people become homeless when they can’t pay their rent.

It’s cheaper — not to mention more humane — to help people pay their rent rather than rescue them after they fail. The majority of Vancouver’s homeless are on welfare. Taxpayers could spare themselves that $40,000-a-year in street services if the province would cough up a couple hundred dollars a month to cover the gap between what welfare pays and what it costs to rent an apartment.


Idea Three: Train Young Workers

Those with the highest risk of becoming homeless are young adults recently discharged from institutions such as jail or foster care. Lacking even basic employment skills, a terribly high percentage of them wind up on the streets.

Even day labour can be hard to get for people who lack required work clothes, such as steel-toed boots. Providing such items presents an opportunity for the private sector to become involved. «During Homelessness Awareness Week, one group put out a call for steel-toed boots,» said Vancouver homeless fair co-ordinator Helesia Luke. «Within a few days after the newspaper article, Scott Paper and Lafarge Cement donated a good supply of used steel-toe boots. Of the first three individuals who received boots, all are still working…now two of these three people are off the street.»


Idea Five: Buy a Few Hotels

Even if all the marginally homeless were given enough money to pay their own way, and even if all the «healthy» homeless — those with mild mental illnesses and addicts in recovery — were moved to scattered-site supportive housing, there would still remain a core group of hard-core addicts and those with severe mental illnesses who need a place to live.

Since it’s cheaper to house these hard cases than to continually treat them on the streets, it makes sense to create a facility for the hardest-to-house. The city’s official homeless strategy figures that area governments have to build 400 social housing units a year for the next 10 years in order to house the homeless. With fewer than 500 units planned in the next three years, it’s clear that not even go-go Vancouver can build its way out of the current (and growing) homeless crisis.

… the most obvious solution — though not one that anyone in government wants to talk about — would be to buy a few old hotels, convert the rooms to housing, and establish closely monitored facilities that tolerate discreet drinking and drug use.

The idea of housing people no matter what their problems may be is a hallmark of recent U.S. efforts to end homeless. Seattle’s «Housing First Initiative,» for example, combined housing with in-house medical and mental health services. In its first six months, the pilot program it has already been successful at moving roughly two dozen chronic homeless — many of whom have long-term addictions — off the streets.


to emerge — to appear from somewhere or come out of somewhere/to become known

to navigate — to successfully use a complicated system

to navigate a website

mental handicaps — intellectual disability

drug addled brains

to addle — to make somebody unable to think clearly; to confuse somebody

Being in love must have addled your brain.

to enroll — to become or make someone become an official member of acourse, college, or group (регистрироваться)

to convene — to arrange a meeting, or to meet for a meeting


welfare — money paid by a government to people who are poor, ill, or who do not have jobs

welfare provision/services/work

to cough something up — to give money to someone although you do not want to

to discharge — to allow someone to leave a hospital or prison

foster care — supervised care for delinquent or neglected children usually in an institution or substitute home

to wind up — to finally be somewhere or do something, especially without having planned it

hard-core (adj) — having a belief or a way of behaving that will not change

to convert — to change or make something change from one form, purpose, system, etc. to another

discreet — careful in what you say or do, in order to keep something secret or to avoid causing embarrassment or difficulty for somebody