Welcome to the economics section of Lilith Press Magazine. Here we shall discuss the ins and outs of economics - and give you some interesting statistics that will show you that sometimes things are more complicated than they seem - and that alternative routes might be the more cost-effective measure of solving economic problems.
Start by rethinking what you know about Supply and Demand.
Real Estate Economics
In Canada, condos in Toronto and Vancouver are becoming increasingly expensive and difficult to afford. As the cities grow upwards instead of outwards, city living is becoming increasingly cramped and "neighbours" usually end up becoming nameless people you see in the hallways. Toronto Condos and Highrises takes an indepth look at how these architectural behemoths are changing the landscape of Canada's biggest city - and changing how neighbourhoods work, think about themselves, and their population density.
The Economics of Homelessness
At any given time there is approx. 50,000 homeless people in the Greater Toronto Area.
50,000. That is enough for a small city, all by itself.
What is even more surprising about that number is that the majority of that 50,000 homeless people have jobs. They are NOT unemployed. They are working, they just cannot afford the cost of renting an apartment because apartment prices in Toronto are too high.
Stop and think about that.
It has nothing to do with homeless people being lazy or crazy (only 6% of homeless people suffer from schizophrenia). There people are not lazy. They're working. They just can't find an apartment that is "affordable".
And its not just the cost of the apartment itself.
Its the cost of heating it. Electricity. Water. Utility bills in general.
Add in a phone bill monthly and you can end up paying quite a bit.
Lets pretend you find a basement apartment for 1 person for $700, but the cost of electricity is not included. The extra electricity might cost you another $100 per month, and your phone $50 per month. Already you are looking at $850 per month.
Budget wise you might be spending $100 on food, $50 on clothing / toiletries, if you have old debts you might also have $200 payments every month.
So we're up to $1,200 already, monthly. Dentist bills, medications, unexpected trips for funerals. New glasses once every several years.
Now what happens if you are working FULL TIME, 40 hours per week, but getting paid minimum wage?
The minimum wage in Ontario is $10.25 per hour. Times 40 hours that is $410 per week... minus income taxes, pension plan, employment insurance. Take home pay will be about $320 per week.
So that is $1,280 every 4 weeks. Not a lot of leeway when it comes to budget.
Now lets pretend you aren't getting 40 hours per week. You might only be getting 30. Suddenly you can't afford to live in that basement apartment any more because you simply are not making enough. If you cut back on various things, you might be able to pay your rent, but you won't be able to pay your electricity bills, buy food, pay off old debts... debt collectors will start calling, you may end using your credit card a lot more to rack up more debt...
It becomes a huge balancing act just to get from month to month.
What we really need is some kind of subsidy for low income workers so their electricity bills aren't so steep.
And while we are at it we also need more subsidies for affordable housing. Toronto has enough expensive condos (they're building them like crazy), what we really need is more affordable housing.
Anti-poverty activists in 2013 are calling for a $14 minimum wage this year. They're probably not going to get it because in May 2013 the Liberal government said they had no plans to raise the minimum wage this year. They might raise it in 2014, but its doubtful they will raise it this year.
A more progressive stance would be to raise the minimum wage 25 cents every year. $10.50 this year, $10.75 in 2014, $11 in 2015, etc. At least then it would be progress.
A more aggressive approach would be 25 cents this year, and 50 cents more every year after that.
Now you might think this is going to hurt businesses. It won't. The only companies paying their employees minimum wage is places like McDonalds, Burger King, Tim Hortons, etc. They can afford to tighten their belts a bit.
It makes you realize that solving homelessness is actually really easy. You just raise the minimum wage and provide subsidies for more affordable housing.
If you don't then I would like to remind you that the Canadian government spends approximately $6 billion annually on emergency services, community organizations, and non-profits specifically aimed at homeless people. SIX BILLION. The numbers add up to approx. $20,000 per year per homeless person.
The Canadian government would actually SAVE money simply by having more subsidies for affordable housing. Raising the minimum wage would also be a dramatic shift towards an economy where more people have both jobs and a home, they're well paid, and they can afford the place they are living in.
Quotes about Homelessness in Toronto by charity worker / activist Edward de Gale
"Canada is the second coldest country on earth and with a climate like Canadaís, energy, like food and housing is a necessity of life." - Edward de Gale.
"It is a little known fact that the inability to pay basic utilities/energy is the second leading economic cause of homelessness in this country." - Edward de Gale.
"Over 50,000 households a year have their power disconnected in Ontario while thousands of others struggle to provide the necessary energy to stay warm and cook meals. Thatís one household with their power cut every 10 minutes, every hour, of every day, for a year." - Edward de Gale.
"Many Ontario households must choose between eating and heating, and seniors and those with special needs must choose between medication and heating." - Edward de Gale.
"Families, with minor children, unable to provide basic utilities/energy for their children are vulnerable to child protection orders because they are unable to provide the necessities of life." - Edward de Gale.
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