Homeless not a homogenous group

Dear editor,
Over the past several months, there have been many articles and letters about a proposed homeless shelter in the Comox Valley.

Dear editor,Over the past several months, there have been numerous articles and letters written in regards to the proposed development of a new homeless shelter here in the Valley.There have been many arguments in support of the shelter, as well as some concerns raised. Recently, there have been several comments surrounding the question of whether there is even a need for a shelter in the Valley, but rather, should an emphasis on affordable housing be developed. I firmly agree that affordable housing is needed in the Valley, but it is not a ‘this’ or ‘that’ situation. We have a number of guests who frequent the shelter simply because they cannot find a place to live that is affordable. These are men and women who are working steady full time jobs in this community, but cannot afford a place of their own (if there was even a place available). However, we also have men and women who come through the doors of Pidcock House in need of much more than just a warm, dry place to lay their head for the night. While some of these individuals hold down steady jobs as well, there is a deeper level of support required. For many, concerns of mental health and addictions are prevalent, as well as a variety of other issues. There are a large number of local agencies (such as Wachiay Friendship Centre, Transition Society, Mental Health, Dawn-to-Dawn, etc.) who support these individuals on a daily basis. Through ongoing case management (each shelter guest has access to our case management program and develops a personal development plan with short- and long-term goals), we desire to help the individual grow beyond their current situation to a place of health and productivity within the community. Supports with referrals as well as accountability are provided. We do not have all the answers, but we know that together, we can make a difference in the lives of the individuals who have fallen upon hard times; those who are on the fringes of our society by providing a loving and holistic response — to afford them the dignity that they so rightfully deserve. Housing is important, but it will not solve the issues. A shelter is also important, but in itself, will not solve the issues.What is needed is an intentional involvement of all government levels, local agencies, and most importantly, the community, to come alongside our ‘neighbours’ in their time of need. The words of Jesus sum it all up… “Love Your Neighbour.”Darryl BurryEditor’s note: Darryl Burry is the lead pastor/executive directorfor the Comox Valley Ministries of the Salvation Army.

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