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The Homeless - An Action Plan

This is a time of year when we focus on our families and on enjoying a break from work. For many of us it is also a time to give a little extra back to those who are less fortunate. One of the groups that falls into that category is the homeless community.

Yesterday I had a call from a friend, and successful business person asking me to join a local group that is going to fix this problem for the chronically homeless here in Ottawa. I have known Howard Grant for a lot of years, he is an expert in the area of government procurement and has operated his company Partnering and Procurement Inc. (PPI) for many years. Howard is a no nonsense kind of guy (and he and I have kicked each other many times over the years while playing soccer) ... so if he thought this was a good idea who am I to argue!

Here is the deal ... the chronically homeless are a drain on our community resources, they take health care time, police time, community services time and studies in the US would suggest each one might actually cost a community $100,000 a year when you add it up! That same study suggests that a small self-contained place of residence could be provided for perhaps $15,000 a year! One side benefit being ... no vagrants lying in the streets and a better, safer community. Another side benefit being these individuals actually get a chance to address the issues that put them on the street, and get their lives back!

The US is ahead of the curve and has already achieved some great strides in this area, through their Interagency Council on Homelessness. They have a dynamic leader in the person of Philip Mangano who is quoted as saying "Instead of serving homeless people endlessly, our mission is to end their homelessness."

The reason it works in the US and the reason it will work here is that the problem is being tackled by multiple stakeholders. Business and government, non-profits and local citizens, all working towards a common goal. So ... I am on the Ottawa team and I kinda like Mangano's mission! I will keep you posted every now and then as we solve this one!