Sunday, September 03, 2006

Buddy can you spare $38 to $141?

Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses? Montreal has decided to pretend that the homeless actually have somewhere to go and if they don't they face fines of 38 to 141 dollars.
Trying to find shelter for them and keeping them out of public parks is an increasingly complex problem. Montreal has about 500 beds in its three main shelters.

The city has instructed police to first suggest a list of shelters. But eventually they will be slapping sleepers with fines ranging from $38 to $141.

Because shelters are often listed as the only address for some of the homeless, shelters say that tickets arrive every day for nuisance crimes such as spitting on the street or crossing a street against a red light.

If you're living on the street, it's unlikely you have money to pay a fine. Montreal has a solution for that, too: unpaid fines win the sleeper a stay in a city jail.

Surely we are better as a society than this. Surely we can find someway to deal with people that allows them to keep their dignity?
Every city has it's share of abandoned buildings. These could easily be turned into rooming homes that would allow privacy, a permanent address and keep the "riff raff" off the streets. Providing this housing free of charge would still cost less than jailing everyone and increasing police workload.
Interesting that in all the decisions that are thought up, none actually seek to help the problem, save money, or provide answers. They simply seek to answer the need so many have to see the poor and mentally ill punished.


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