In his new book, Exploring Effective System Responses to Homelessness, UBC Okanagan’s Carey Doberstein says the solution to homelessness requires an integrated system response from multiple players. The book was co-edited with Naomi Nichols from McGill University.
Q: Your new book Exploring Effective System Responses to Homelessness was released this week. What are the goals of this book?
We know from countless studies that homelessness is a systemic public policy problem, meaning a problem that involves numerous sectors, such as government institutions and service agencies. We know that many more players need to be part of the solution, including child welfare systems, correctional services and health services.
Q: What are the key takeaway messages from this book?
One thing we have learned in recent years is that we are getting quite good at providing services and housing to vulnerable Canadians, though there are not nearly enough investments in affordable housing by any government in Canada.
One of the major governance failures of homelessness in Canada and elsewhere is the lack of ownership of this issue within and across government.
Q: What can we do as everyday citizens to help end homelessness in Canada?
First, we know the vast majority of those experiencing homeless have been exposed to some form of trauma, victimization, discrimination, mental health challenges, or extreme poverty. My first appeal is for empathy.
Second, there is a strong argument to support additional government investments and programs to help end homelessness: the hidden costs of homelessness to taxpayers are extraordinary compared to what it would cost to prevent chronic homelessness.
Carey Doberstein is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at UBC’s Okanagan campus. His areas of research include Canadian politics and governance, comparative public policy, public administration, and urban policy issues.
For a full transcript of Doberstein’s interview, visit: news.ok.ubc.ca/ikbarberschool/2016/02/12/new-book-rethinks-how-to-address-homelessness