One Toronto doctor believes that he can "cure" homelessness with social medicine.
Homelessness has increased nationwide for the last number of years, but one doctor has the answer. On the west coast, many major cities, such as Los Angeles, declared a state of emergency due to the vast number of people living on street corners, under freeways, in parks, and on the sidewalks. Due to how big these numbers are, the governors of Oregon and California have made reducing the number of homeless people the number one priority.
But one doctor in Toronto, Canada seems to have the solution. Dr. Andrew Boozary, the director of the Gattusco Centre for Social Medicine, has advocated for homeless people. He has launched a new project that builds permanent housing exclusively for anyone who has been homeless.
This is part of a movement taking over American hospitals where doctors believe that the ultimate preventative care for homeless people is to provide them with a stable environment. This way, it helps both the patient and the hospital. The patients have a house, and the hospital does not have the increased cost of caring for homeless patients. This project is set to be completed this year.
Boozary believes in social medicine that interlinks internal factors such as diet and exercise with external factors such as housing and social conditions. Adding the socio-economic aspects of a patient’s life is backed up by many statistics as the new way of thinking. Homeless people’s life expectancy is half of the general public’s. This shows what a vital issue homelessness really is and how it is affecting the citizens of America.
There are many reasons why people end up living on the streets, including poverty, childhood trauma, or substance abuse, just to name a few. But after copious amounts of study, there is one overlapping factor: a lack of affordable housing in America for people on a low income. There is a housing affordability crisis throughout America, and the amount of homelessness in every city shows precisely how it is affecting people.
With inflation and a cost of living crisis now rampant across America and the globe, the homelessness crisis will only continue to grow and worsen. But by putting vulnerable people in housing explicitly reserved for them, they can start the process of getting better and eventually returning to society.
Several of these projects are up and running throughout America. Still, some of them have been shot down by local councils, like in San Francisco, where a proposal to turn a hotel into housing for people experiencing homelessness was turned down after numerous objections from local residents.
Boozary states that if the government wants to reduce the homeless numbers permanently, they need to house them. Homeless shelters and other public housing are valuable tools, of course, but it is only a short-term fix. His new project, a four-story building with more than 50 units, will provide homeless people with the stability they crave and a safe place to get on their feet.
If this is successful, hopefully it will be replicated across America so that the vulnerable people within our cities finally have a shot at reclaiming their lives.