The heart-wrenching debate over how to help homeless people that blew up this week as Toronto shivered through an extreme cold weather alert is, sadly, nothing new.

Each and every winter, outrage builds among homeless advocates as the shelters and respite and warming centres are filled to overflowing.

What the situation clearly calls for is a focus on long-term solutions by all levels of government that would have the goal of actually ending homelessness.

But over and over again the city bungles the emergency response at hand, distracting elected leaders from addressing its root causes.