Interesting study Shelby but the paramenters of the study were pretty wide. They defined homeless as beign without a home for at least 6 months. Most other countries take that down to one month and for some it is any time without a home. If a fire burns down your home and you have no where to go you are homeless even if it is only for one night. In the places I worked or the helter I stayed at one night was enough to classify a person as homeless. We frequently sawe people come into the shelter after a fire gutted their homes. One night I had to go over to a pharmacy and get enough of a woman's prescription medications to hold her over until she could see her Dr for new prescriptions. She camer in with the clothes on her back (actually a night gown and nothing on her feet). She certainly wasn't out begging but she sure was homeless.
Most of the homeless people I knew were not out begging on the streets. A few were. And I certainly saw many more people out on the streets that I knew were not homeless than people I knew who were. In Winnipeg I was at the only homeless shelter in town. We knew who was really living on the street because they came in for meals. They weren't the ones out begging either.
So who are they?
In Ottawa we have community care nurses who go into the shelters and treat the homeless and hook them up with doctors and make sure they get what they need in the way of treatment. In a country where family doctors are overburdened I had one within a month because this nurse hooked me up with one.
People with dual diagnoses (often a mental disorder and an addiction) were referred for treatment. Many refused. You can't force them unless they are a real danger to themsleves or others.
I absoilutely agree that the government did people a great disservice when they deinstitutionalized those with mental health issues. Many were not capable of taking care of themselves, paying the rent and the utilities, shopping, cooking and doing all the necessities of life. I saw this in both Winnipeg and in Ottawa. Placing them in ghettos isn't the answer either. Or restricitng them to live outside of the city for that matter.
We do need to make changes so many of these people are getting what they need. But they aren't the ones out begging either.
One thing I have seen is an extraordinarily high niumber of homeless had suffer a lot of abuse as kids. Many ran away to get away from it only to find themsleves ill prepared to deal with life.
It has been my belief for many years now that we need to do more to help people deal with their abuse histories and give them the supports they need to overcome their past and all the problems thnat result from it including homelessness, prostitution, addiction and mental health problems. I have worked with people who were on the street - counseling the, When given the opportuunity to deal with the past and turn their lives around many take it and learn to thrive.
Chronic homelessness is often a symptom of a much bigger problem than not having a place to live.