The Yellowknife Homelessness Road Map Action Plan: Report of the Homelessness Working Group (the Roadmap), was released earlier this month. The report outlines both short term and long term objectives to address the problem of homelessness and the accompanying issues that homeless individuals frequently face including addiction and mental health issues.
Providing protection to the homeless, is something all countries and people who embrace the UN Declaration of Human Rights ought to do, in my opinion. Article 25 of the Declaration of human rights states that all people have the right to a “standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself” including housing and the “right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control”. I see the spirit of that provision embracing the protection of homeless individuals, especially as many homeless individuals struggle with addiction and mental health problems. The Roadmap published by the government in Yellowknife show how they will try and provide protection and shelter to the homeless.
The Roadmap highlighted three priority areas which accompany eleven priority actions. The three areas are: “Improved Coordination and Collaboration; New and Enhanced Services to Mitigate Homelessness; and Long Term Planning and Strategic Framework Development”. The priority actions were a mixture of long and short term objectives, spread across these three areas.
The first priority area, Improved Coordination and Collaboration, explores ways to better integrate different services and programs in order to provide better support for homeless individuals. This includes a short term goal of creating an Inter-Agency Committee to foster the coordination and collaboration of the different agencies supporting the homeless. The priority actions within this area all focus on a similar theme of improving collaboration amongst different groups with the goal to create a more effective, efficient, and integrated system for helping homeless individuals.
The second priority area highlighted in the report, New or Enhanced Services to Address Homelessness, focuses on the services designed to address the immediate needs of homeless individuals. Within this area there is a suggestion for the creation of a “harm reduction pilot project, and more specifically, a Managed Alcohol Program”. The Managed Alcohol Program is premised on evidence that providing those who suffer with alcohol addiction a rationed amount of alcohol results in a reduction of both binge drinking and the consumption of non-beverage alcohol. This reduction helps individuals better access other services to help them and reduces the strain on the police and emergency rooms. I am a supporter of pragmatic services such as the suggested Managed Alcohol Program as, in my opinion, they better address the totality of the situation and work to create a better solution.
The third priority area, Long Term Planning and Strategic Framework Development, only contained one priority action. “The Development of a 10 Year Plan to Address Homelessness in Yellowknife” is the only priority action in this area, but has the highest the priority rank of all eleven priority actions. This item addresses that the working group who put together this report lacked the resources to develop a long term strategy to reduce homelessness in Yellowknife, but such a plan is still crucial. It is recommended that the Community Advisory Board on Homelessness, with the help of all front line agencies and professional expertise from a firm or individual, work together to develop a 10-year action plan, to ensure there is a long term focus as well as a short term focus.
The Yellowknife Homelessness Road Map Action Plan represented a well thought out and comprehensive plan to address the problems homeless individuals face in their city. Personally, I hope they implement the Managed Alcohol Program, as I am eager to see the results of such a program.
The whole report is listed here
This blog post was written by a CCLA-PBSC RightsWatch student. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the view of the CCLA or PBSC.