Mental health big part of homelessness

thesudburystar – Letters & Issues – Re: “Fix problem, committee told” (homelessness) — Jan. 18.
Posted Friday, January 21, 2011.   Ray Vincent

Major Barb Carey of the Salvation Army has it right when she says, “We need to stop studying the homelessness problem in Sudbury and put our resources into programs where we need it.”

Bureaucrats love to meet and talk and talk. The Salvation Army acts.

We need more doers and less talkers on this issue. We also need more attention given to causes of the problem and less energy spent on symptoms.

Unfortunately, a very important facet of homelessness lost on the task force is the aspect mental illness or dementia and its correlation to behavioural manifestations in homelessness.

Structural homelessness — homelessness caused by socioeconomic events such as unemployment or family breakdowns –may be the easiest to remedy.

Income support programs and adequate social housing stocks should take care of the consequent housing problems.

However, homelessness endemic in the single, unattached individual, (by far the largest group amongst the homeless), presents entirely different problems.

Poverty with this group is also a constant but somewhat of a side issue. The main problem that presents are those of mental health. Until the mental health issues of the single homeless person is addressed, and those mental health issues resolved, you will always have to side-step some one lying down over a warm subway air vent in downtown Toronto, or some one pushing a shopping cart in downtown Sudbury.

Ray Vincent

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