Toronto is exploring the idea of giving homeless shelter residents one year of free rent


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Something like that is being trialled in Australia, and the results are barbaric.

It's a cashless welfare card, the theory being that it can't be used to purchase drugs and alcohol, it can only be used for "approved purchases." And therein lies the problem, it's near impossible to get many purchases approved, not to mention that the card can be declined at random.

There have been families who have had to go without food for an entire weekend, because the card declined on a Friday, and nothing could be done about it until business hours on the following Monday.

In Australia, rents are paid fortnightly, this means that typically, you'll pay rent twice a month, except occasionally, when it's due a third time in a month, the system doesn't recognise this, and declines the rent payment, meaning people end up behind in their rent. But that's assuming it was being paid in the first place, because, depending on who you are renting through, you may not be able to pay rent at all. The card can not be used for paying for a room in a share house, nor for a private rental. And there are real-estate agencies who refuse to rent to anyone who is on the card.

Then there's the issue of it costing people a lot of money to be on the card, because the card is not approved for purchases on market place, gumtree, and second hand shops. If your fridge stops working, you can't get a second hand replacement, you either have to go without refrigeration, or purchase a new fridge, which you probably won't have the funds to do.

The card can't be used at hotels, because alcohol is sold there. Too bad if you need short term accommodation. In some towns, it can't be used for the purchase of fuel. Too bad if your tank is empty, you're stuck in town, and can't pay for accommodation.

But none of this prevents the addicts from getting their fix. In the areas where the card is in use, crime has increased, DV has increased, elder abuse has increased, child abuse has increased

And then with what you're suggesting, there is the additional issue relating to addiction, in which denying access can result in death. Alcohol withdrawal can be fatal. It has to be a gradual process, not cold turkey.

The better solution is to provide housing, mental health services, and address the addiction, rather than simply trying to cut the supply of the substance.

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