Homelessness and Mental Health Action Group

May 01, 2007 11:30 ET

Homelessness and Mental Health Action Group: Compassion Is Cost Effective

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(CCNMatthews - May 1, 2007) - Homelessness and Mental Health Action Group -

When Dr. John Pratt-Johnson had to step over a sleeping, homeless man to get into church, the face of homelessness became real: "No one should have to live like this!" As a result of this John started the St. Andrew's-Wesley Homelessness and Mental Illness Action Group, which is hosting a free public forum, "END HOMELESSNESS NOW", on May 8th at 7pm. This event will be held at St. Andrews Wesley Church (corner of Burrard and Nelson), with brief speeches by the Honourable Mike Harcourt, Rafe Mair and Rev. Ruth Wright, to raise awareness and address the homelessness crisis in our city.

It affects us all. It might be as in Dr. Pratt-Johnson's case, stepping over a sleeping homeless person on a doorstep, or it could be watching in despair a loved one spiraling toward death or being approached by someone begging for money.

The economic cost of homelessness is enormous; the city says it costs about $40,000/year for each person on the street. Taxpayers foot the bill for all the medical care, police visits, ambulance calls and other problems associated with homelessness. To put ONE homeless person in a proper apartment with compassionate care, the price tag sinks to about $28,000/year..... a savings of $12,000. With at least 1200 homeless on our streets, that is a savings of over $14,000,000 per year!

"We need to stop treating the mentally ill like lepers," said Rev. Gary Paterson, Minister of St. Andrews Wesley United Church. "Attitudes toward the mentally ill and addicted have been a barrier to coherent intervention."

"It is a complex problem with a complex solution. It requires all three levels of government to work together and to make this happen requires the will of the citizens," said Dr. John Pratt-Johnson, chair of the St Andrews-Wesley Homeless and Mental Illness Action Group. "At this meeting we want to highlight the social, human and economic cost of homelessness."

"We know we can solve this problem. Other communities have. It's a win-win situation," says Dr. Nancy Hall, former Mental Health Advocate for BC and moderator of the May 8th forum on Homelessness. "Proper support and care saves money, saves anguish, saves families and ultimately saves lives. Compassion is cost-effective."

The "End Homelessness Now Forum" seeks to jump start the solutions. There will be a brief performance to start off the forum by the renowned Universal Gospel Choir. Doors open at 6:30 pm.

Make a choice, be part of the problem or part of the solution. Join us to END HOMELESSNESS NOW!

Contact Information

  • Homelessness and Mental Health Action Group
    Dr. John Pratt-Johnson
    (604) 736-4173
    Website: www.endhomelessnessnow.ca
    Dr. Nancy Hall
    (604) 868-2171
    St. Andrews Wesley Church
    Rev. Gary Paterson
    (604) 683-4574 Ext 227