I work at a homeless shelter, and have for years. The Drop-in Centre also accepts not-sober people on the third floor. Also, Alpha House accepts heavily intoxicated individuals. FYI.
The credit card story is pretty typical of these kinds of stories. I like the fact that they are personalizing things and pointing out the fact that people on the streets are not some homogeneous mass of addicts. Recognizing the breadth of issues that people on the streets face is key for dealing with those issues. There is no one size fits all approach.
However, what made me laugh about that story is the fact the drug dealers do not take credit cards, prepaid or not.
Our own figures put the rate of addiction at around 75-80%, however stats are very difficult in this area, since both measurement and classification are problematic. Is someone with a history of crack addiction that's been clean for 5 years an addict? Do they become an addict again when they relapse? When do they stop being an addict? Guys who I know smoke crack every day that deny it up and down, do they get recorded as addicts or not? How about that person with a legitimate Oxycontin prescription whose prescription never lasts until renewal. Then there are the street homeless that never use the system at all, and never get measured for anything. It's very difficult to get accurate numbers.
Yes there are a very large number of homeless who have all their essential needs paid for by the taxpayer, who work the bare minimum to pay for their addictions, and do this for year upon year. This is a fact.
What's the alternative though? A few might work a wee bit harder and share a rental with 6 friends. A few might get off the street entirely. Most would just live on the street, in your building's foyer, under bridges, on your porch, etc. There would be significantly more people dying on the streets every winter. This is also a fact.
Ok, too much wall of text, I'll stop now.