Reproduced some of the comments of Dr. Jino Distasio, Michael Maunder (who has studied rooming houses with Dr. Distasio) and Member of Parliament Peter Goldring. A friend, Private Means (chosen pseudonym) commented as follows:
I’m glad to have read Mr. Goldring’s article. Thank you for drawing it to my attention. As a young person at university, I managed very well living in a rooming house, although I never stayed in a boarding home, which is what he recalls from his own past. Today, the sort of competent woman, who so effectively ran the one he recalls, probably is too busy at an outside job for that kind of work.
One problem that Mr. Goldring doesn’t address is that many people in shelters or rooming houses are part of the group known as the hard to house. They aren’t just poor; they have addictions or serious mental-health issues. When Mr. Goldring was a young man, many of these people were in institutions, but now they are in the community with little support, if not living on the street.
I know from having spent nearly 30 years with a partner who slid into ever-worsening addiction. People with this and similar problems can’t keep themselves or their surroundings clean and can’t hang on to what little money they have (their wallets are always being lifted). As their medication makes them feel sick, they often refuse to take it, even though, without it, their condition worsens and their behaviour causes alarm. Their presence is a risk factor for fire, or for water damage through failure to turn off taps.
In short, these are not people that a rooming-house manager wants to have around, and non-specialized social-housing corporations may not tolerate them either. Some have even been banned from local shelters for disruptive behaviour. They need government-assisted, privately run supportive housing, with a human element to provide care and counselling.
That said, I believe that the landlords of many of the remaining rooming houses and boarding homes are good and caring people, but their job, after all, is just to provide shelter and, if boarding, basic food, not to persuade people to take their meds, visit a doctor or refrain from screaming at or fighting with their neighbours.
I can see no solution for these deeply troubled people other than supportive housing at a geared-to-income rent, especially if they have been living on the street.
First of all, they need to be housed. It is well known that nothing is more costly to the taxpayer than the combined expenses of the shelters, hospital emergency departments and the justice system–all of which homeless or insecurely housed people are very often heavily involved with. Through supportive housing, people can learn how to take care of themselves and how to live more peacefully with other people.
Again, I find myself thinking of my now-deceased partner. A hopelessly addicted person can live out his life doing little harm, even if he cannot recover. Secure housing, with personal support, was what made this possible for my partner. It didn’t solve his problems; he died an addict, but the result was better than anything available through any other option.