“Right now is not the time for research, right now the time is for action. The research has been done.”
Long says unnecessary administrative processes, as well as overall funding decreases, are leading to worker burnout. The irony, she says, is employees often leave for higher-paying jobs with government agencies.
“They see the clients and the hopelessness and the fact that they cannot connect them to the services that they need, and so they’re just putting Band-Aids on,” Long says.
“We’ve also just come through a huge crisis of a pandemic, and the burnout and vicarious trauma in watching clients overdose and die, be hopeless, and then their own personal trauma from being in that pandemic … I have never seen stuff at such a level of burnout as I have this summer.”
Councillor Michael Janz, who previously worked in the youth mentoring space with a non-profit, is familiar with that burnout.
Janz says it is unfair how heavily governments scrutinize nonprofit funding and “hypocritical” that police receive “very little scrutiny and oversight” by comparison.
“The level of trust that we provide to certain institutions and not others is mind boggling,” Janz says.
“It’s not lost on me that we spend half a billion dollars on policing and that gets moved through very quickly. Yet we’ll scrutinize other areas of business, and nonprofits, or a grant program here, a grant program there. It’s very frustrating.”
Janz attributes some of this lack of trust to outdated stereotypes. He cites a recent University of British Columbia study that found unhoused people, when given an unconditional cash transfer of $7,500, were most likely to spend it on housing, clothing and food. This was contrary to public perception – respondents to the researchers’ survey predicted the recipients would spend 81 per cent more on things like alcohol, drugs and tobacco if they were homeless than they would if they were housed.