Homelessness as evident by last year’s tent city in Saanich is not just a problem of the core communities, says the executive director of Our Place Society (Black Press File)

LETTER: Changing the face of homelessness

I am devastated by what I see on the streets of our community. People are suffering and it is time that we do more than pay lip service to this growing calamity. I am talking about homelessness, although it is so much more than that.

At one time, homelessness was looked at through the lens of poverty. We assumed people were sleeping on the streets because they had messed up, because they had fallen on hard times and lacked the resolve to pull themselves out of it.

Today, we know that’s not true.

Poverty isn’t the root cause of people finding themselves trapped in the cracks. It is definitely a factor that people raised in poverty have a greater likelihood of being a victim of abuse, poor nutrition and neglect.

But there is another face. This face is one we never imagined would end up on the street. This is the face of neglected youth, injured workers, abused women and people suffering from brain injuries and mental health issues that can strike anyone, at any income level, at any time.

RELATED: Our Place Society would like to see modular housing in Saanich Peninsula communities

The drug abuse and addiction issues that we see every day in this vulnerable population is a symptom of these factors rather than a cause. And the way to help these individuals is first through supportive housing.

It is almost impossible to stabilize someone and provide proper care until they have a safe place to lay their head at night.

Not in law, but in practice we have essentially decriminalize drugs in our city. Since supervised consumption and overdose prevention sites have opened in Victoria, people struggling with opioid addiction have been coming out of the shadows and into our city core to access these life-saving services. People are no longer sent to jail for using or being in possession of small quantities of illicit substances. These are both good things because the opposite of addiction is connection. Isolation just feeds the addiction. Incarcerating or pushing people to the margins has only made their situation worse. People need to be brought into the community. The problem is that these individuals all need some kind of housing.

The good news is the provincial government has set aside money to build housing, including modular housing, that can be built quickly. All that’s needed for the modular housing is for the municipalities to provide land. The bad news is the municipalities in the Greater Victoria area have yet to step up and provide some land.

Politicians fear their constituents won’t support it because while people like to talk about the need to help, too few are willing to actually support making it happen in their neighbourhood. It’s heartbreaking that funding is available to help solve this crisis and yet we don’t have the communities’ support.

We need to get past that resistance. We need to understand that a staff supported group of 40 to 50 people living in well run temporary or permanent modular housing will not be a detriment to our communities. As taxpayers, we need to stand up and say “Yes!” rather than “No!” and we need to say it loud enough for our local politicians to hear and take note.

If we want to change the face of homelessness, we need to support the development of social housing including modular housing with staff supports in our neighbourhoods. This means all the municipalities from the southern end of Finlayson Arm to the eastern shore of Sooke Harbour need to be involved.

Homelessness is not just a downtown Victoria issue, it is an “Us” issue. I invite you to join me in raising your voice and letting our politicians know that yes, together we can change the face of homelessness.

Don Evans, CEO

Our Place Society

Just Posted

Saanich’s 20-year-old acting mayor encourages other young people get involved in politics

There is a ‘hunger for young voices’ in politics right now

Designs for Johnson Street Bridge waterfront areas hit delays

Upgrades to the Songhees Park, surrounding area being presented Thursday

Personal health scare inspires Sidney’s newest gym

Arne Jackson said the scare was a ‘wake-up call’

Abortions rights advocates urge Liberals to turn politics into policy

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was pressed to clarify his stance abortion over several weeks

Greater Victoria 2019 holiday craft fair roundup

Get a jump on your holiday shopping

POLL: Do you support CUPE workers in their dispute with School District 63?

SD63 schools to remain closed as strike continues Tuesday

Closing arguments begin in B.C. case launched in 2009 over private health care

Dr. Day said he illegally opened the Cambie Surgery Centre in 1996 in order to create more operating-room time

MacLean says “Coach’s Corner is no more” following Cherry’s dismissal from Hockey Night

Cherry had singled out new immigrants in for not honouring Canada’s veterans and fallen soldiers

MacKinnon powers Avs to 5-4 OT win over Canucks

Vancouver battled back late to pick up single point

Poole’s Land finale: Tofino’s legendary ‘hippie commune’ being dismantled

Series of land-use fines inspire owner Michael Poole to sell the roughly 20-acre property.

Port Alberni mom takes school district to court over Indigenous smudging, prayer in class

Candice Servatius, who is an evangelical Christian, is suing School District 70

Family of B.C. man killed in hit-and-run plead for tips, one year later

Cameron Kerr’s family says the driver and passengers tried to cover their tracks

Most Read