Tilted Forum Project Discussion Community  

Go Back   Tilted Forum Project Discussion Community > Chatter > General Discussion

LinkBack Thread Tools
Old 04-20-2006, 02:53 AM   #1 (permalink)
KnifeMissile's Avatar
Location: Waterloo, Ontario
Homeless census met with criticism...

City to survey the homeless
One-night count set for Wednesday, as activists question council's intentions

A controversial one-night city survey of the homeless is set to go ahead this week, despite opposition from some activists and a shortage of volunteers to walk the streets of suburban areas looking for homeless people.

Most of the 1,700 volunteers for what the city calls its "street-needs assessment" have signed up to work downtown, or in the city's shelters, for the Wednesday night survey.

Iain De Jong, the director of the city's Streets into Homes initiative, says officials could still use another 100 to 150 volunteers for the project, in order to cover the wide boulevards of the former cities of North York, Etobicoke and Scarborough.

"The more people we have for the outlying areas . . . the better," Mr. De Jong said yesterday. ". . . Homelessness isn't just a downtown issue."

While the city knows that more than 30,000 individuals cycle through its 4,800 shelter spaces each year, there are no reliable estimates of how many homeless people live outside the shelter system, sleeping on the streets and in ravines or squatting in abandoned buildings.

But the idea of surveying and counting Toronto's homeless -- something already tried in New York as well as several other Canadian cities, including Calgary and Vancouver -- has been controversial ever since it was included as part of Mayor David Miller's homelessness strategy, which was approved by city council last year.

Activist Cathy Crowe, the street nurse who co-founded the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, said those who work with the street homeless already know how many there are.

She said the half-dozen or so city-funded street outreach agencies, members of which drive around and offer assistance to homeless people, agree with her group's long-standing estimate that there are at least 1,000 street homeless in Toronto at any one time, in addition to those in shelters.

Ms. Crowe, who is urging those who support the TDRC not to volunteer for the survey, said the count plays to "right-wingers" on city council that she says see street homelessness mainly as a "nuisance" that affects tourism.

She warned that the results -- to be made public in July -- will inevitably lowball the homeless problem, and won't include the "hidden homeless" who sleep in cramped apartments or on friends' couches.

"It's as if city council has just found out about this alien creature called a homeless person," Ms. Crowe said.

Mr. De Jong said the survey will produce a valuable baseline number of homeless people living on the street and inside shelters. It will also produce demographic data and information about what these people say they need, which will be used to "tweak" city programs.

"This is a survey about giving homeless people a voice," Mr. De Jong said. "It allows homeless people to state what their needs are."

It will cost at least $90,000, but Mr. De Jong said that figure does not include staff time spent working on the project.

Teams of two or three volunteers, led by professionals who work with the homeless, will approach people who look homeless between 7 p.m. and 12 a.m. and ask them to participate in a five- or 10-minute survey. Those who do will receive a $5 fast-food voucher.

Those who refuse, or are sleeping and unable to participate, will still be counted, using a shorter survey based only on observations by the team leader. Teams will also ask homeless people in the shelter system around the dinner hour to participate. City or community agency staff will handle approaching homeless people in ravines, abandoned buildings or other potentially dangerous areas.

The seven-page survey asks for demographic information such as age and gender.

Homeless people will also be asked if they think more money, help getting ID, alcohol or drug treatment, "mental health supports," or "harm reduction supports, e.g. methadone, safer crack kit, needle exchange," among other things, would help them find a place to live.

Volunteers for the survey, who must be 18 or older, will receive training on the night of the count, and can apply on-line at http://www.toronto.ca/housing/sna.
I first heard a version of this new article on a local TV newscast and found the opposition to it interesting. $90,000 really isn't a lot of money and I was raised on the creed "knowledge is power." I don't understand why people don't think this effort is useful. It's not just a count of how many are homeless, although that would still be useful, it's a demographic survey. How can you solve a problem without understanding it?
Besides, spending the money to feed them for another day won't solve their problems any sooner...
KnifeMissile is offline  
Old 04-20-2006, 03:58 AM   #2 (permalink)
Moderator Emeritus
Location: Chicago
90,000 dollars isn't a lot of money to spend on this - More money should probably be spent, but it should also be made to be accurate.

I think it's a little naive of the government to think that they can go out in one night and count the homeless. The count they get, I have strong doubts would be accurate. If this is the count that they are basing funding on, if I were an advocate for the homeless, I'd be really nervous that they were being undercounted, and I wouldn't get the additional funding they needed.

Granted, they have to start somewhere... but do they think they will get honest answers from people?
Free your heart from hatred. Free your mind from worries. Live simply. Give more. Expect less.
maleficent is offline  
Old 04-20-2006, 10:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
Location: Seattle
Perhaps (at least from the one line in the article) itís a suspicion that the results of the survey won't accurately reflect the real state of need of the homeless population? Not that it would be accurate anyway, but that data would likely be massaged to minimalize the real desperation many are faced with (by their own actions or otherwise)

There could be other concerns, like how that information might really be used by the city? Maybe a foundation for "cracking down" on the homeless?
Topper is offline  
Old 04-21-2006, 05:16 AM   #4 (permalink)
highthief's Avatar
Location: Ontario, Canada
It's nuts, the opposition to it. You have people on both sides arguing against it.

There are those who simply despise ANY spending on the homeless, that the police and government should simply jail everyone for vagrancy and get the problem out of site.

Then there are the homeless advocates who would rather spend 90K (and millions more) on soup kitchens, beds and low cost housing.

But you know, if you are a large city or other administration, and you have let's say 10 million dollars to spend on the homeless problem, well you are an idiot if you don't do some sort of needs assessment before spending said money. There's no responsible manager, private or public, who would do otherwise.

Is this the best way to do it? I'm not sure, but I certainly don't object to them trying.
Si vis pacem parabellum.
highthief is offline  
Old 04-21-2006, 05:53 AM   #5 (permalink)
Pissing in the cornflakes
Ustwo's Avatar
This would be a lot more fun if they called it Bum Count 2006!
Agents of the enemies who hold office in our own government, who attempt to eliminate our "freedoms" and our "right to know" are posting among us, I fear.....on this very forum. - host

Obama - Know a Man by the friends he keeps.
Ustwo is offline  
Old 04-21-2006, 08:49 AM   #6 (permalink)
Location: Seattle
Originally Posted by Ustwo
This would be a lot more fun if they called it Bum Count 2006!
hahahah good one
Topper is offline  
Old 04-21-2006, 09:13 AM   #7 (permalink)
BigBen's Avatar
Location: Use the search button
This is a classic example of the human need to quantify the unknown.

Politicians are the worst at this.

We statisticians run into a problem when we see that the equation is not divisable, or put into a round number such as the magical "PER PERSON".

Listen; I am spending a million dollars on the homeless problem. Advocates say that it isn't nearly enough. A drop in the ocean. How can I be so jaded and uncaring? Opponents say that the million bucks could be spent on a thousand other social programs that will raise the standard of living for everyone. Why piss away a million dollars on a problem that is not nearly as bad as a thousand other things?

Well, what good does this money do?
We don't know, sir. It helps a large population of homeless.
How many?
We don't know, sir.
You can't count them?
No sir. They are homeless. We have no way of tracking them.
You can't give me a rough idea?
Okay, let's say around a thousand.
AROUND a thousand? How solid are those figures?
Purely anecdotal, sir.
Fuck. Lets go out and count them.
That will cost $90,000 sir.

When you are a bean counter, the last thing you want to do is say "I don't know." It is a career-ender. It is your job to know, and not knowing puts a wrech in the gears.

If there is a thousand homeless people, and I am spending 1 million on the homeless problem, I can accurately say that I am trying to solve the problem with 10,000$ worth of effort for every homeless person. That PER CAPITA statistic is easily compared with a multitude of other government statistics, and the utility (or good) achieved can be marginalized, adjusted, and tracked. Statisticians and Economists love that shit.

If there are 2,000 homeless, I am suddenly spending half of what I thought. Can you understand the way a politician and a buraucrat think?

A normal person looks at a million bucks as a million bucks. They only think about the aggregate.

This can also lend itself to hyping the numbers:
If the advocates find that the numbers of homeless are less than predicted, they can scream that the counting process was flawed, and the homeless were hiding. The opponents will scream that funding is more than adequate, and the public should move their attention to more important issues.
If the numbers are larger, the shoe is on the different foot. Advocates can scream about being horrible underfunded and that the good work they do is finally coming to bare fruit. Opponents will talk about homeless being double-counted, statistical errors, and even call some of them "Suburbums".

Well. That's it. Counting things makes people happy. It makes the world of politics and public policy go round.

Big picture: Should we spend more money on the issue of homelessness? I think so. I think it is an important safety net. Then again, I am a Liberal, and would spend every single dime of your paycheck if only I could find a way to tax you that high.
Hey, if you are impressed with my memorizing pi to 10 digits, you should see the size of my penis.
BigBen is offline  

census, criticism, homeless, met

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 08:34 PM.

Tilted Forum Project

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.6.0 PL2
© 2002-2012 Tilted Forum Project

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228 229 230 231 232 233 234 235 236 237 238 239 240 241 242 243 244 245 246 247 248 249 250 251 252 253 254 255 256 257 258 259 260 261 262 263 264 265 266 267 268 269 270 271 272 273 274 275 276 277 278 279 280 281 282 283 284 285 286 287 288 289 290 291 292 293 294 295 296 297 298 299 300 301 302 303 304 305 306 307 308 309 310 311 312 313 314 315 316 317 318 319 320 321 322 323 324 325 326 327 328 329 330 331 332 333 334 335 336 337 338 339 340 341 342 343 344 345 346 347 348 349 350 351 352 353 354 355 356 357 358 359 360