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Homelessness here and there

A colleague at work and I were discussing a recent news article that said city officials are still unable to find a solution to the homelessness problem here in the Metro Vancouver area. I was then asked if we have the same problem in the Philippines. Of course, I said, except for a very few utopian cities I’ve seen, homelessness exists all over the world.

But, I pointed out with a big but, homelessness in the Philippines is very unlike here. In what way, he was interested. I said here the city provides shelters but they would rather sleep on the sidewalks. In the Philippines the city does not provide shelter but the people create them – for example under the bridge and on bus stops. They have soup kitchens here, which they don’t have there.

But the biggest but, I said, is that homelessness in the Philippines is out of poverty, and those poor people had no choice in life but to accept the fact. Here, homelessness is mostly an offshoot of the drug problems. People here are born with equal opportunity to education and jobs but they would rather take the easy pot-smoking, rocking life at the receiving end of handouts from the government and society.

If ever you’ll visit the Philippines, I added, you’ll see small children plying the streets doing just about everything like running alongside speeding transports just to vend some cigarettes and candy, or recycling food scraps just to survive the day. Here you see these people lying by the sidewalks the entire day smoking weed while waiting for spare change to drop their way – without even lifting a finger. And here, I added, we even provide free ambulance and hospitalization whenever they overdosed. That’s the big difference, I explained.

It’s a no-brainer. City officials could not find the solution to this homelessness problem either because they are ignorant of the fact or totally not capable of recognizing that to solve homelessness here is not to build more housing but to eradicate the drug problems. Singapore, for example, is one of the smallest country in the planet and yet they do not have this problem. Why? It’s because they hang drug dealers.

I guess one thing that metro Vancouver could do once they recognize the fact that drugs is the root cause, is to learn and follow Singapore or Philippine President Duterte’s lead – eliminating the drug dealers. But of course, Canadians are so humane they won’t even hurt a cockroach.