|Via Bors Blog|
On my numerous trips to Occupy Vancouver I met many otherwise-homeless people sleeping in tents around the Vancouver Art Gallery. A lot of them were ex-druggies.
One gentlemen - with tattoos all over his face - had been clean for five years and wanted free needle exchange stations around town.
By the way, if you don't think free needle exchange stations are a good idea, watch this excellent TED talk by Elizabeth Pisani.
One cannot mention the homeless at Occupy Vancouver without mentioning the tragic case of the young lady who died of a drug overdose. To the surprise of no one, this was used as an excuse to tear down the encampment.
I think this knee jerk reaction missed the larger problem. Between 2001 and 2005, there were over 290 deaths due to drug overdoses in Vancouver. If you're gonna point the finger at the Occupy site and scream "Unsafe! Unsafe!", then point the finger at Vancouver as a whole first.
I think the young lady who died actually had a better chance of survival at the encampment than she would have on the streets. At least she was near a bunch of people who cared for her safety deeply.
But now the Occupy Vancouver encampment has been shut down. The homeless can once again be homeless and ignored. Free to die cold and alone in a back alley while using dirty needles.