I have to say I am absolutely appalled at some of the letters I’ve read concerning the proposed shelter/humanitarian centre that we desperately need here.
It baffles me when people who joyously (sometimes boastfully) support overseas causes through World Vision, Foster Parents plan, etc. are the very ones who protest against helping people here at home.
Homelessness is not a pretty issue; it’s a sign that society is unable to protect its most vulnerable members, a trademark of living in a society where rising costs create a barrier to even basic needs like shelter and food, leave alone adequate health care.
The street is the last stop after being rejected for not qualifying for help, for not being able to afford rent even when you are working, for dealing with physical and mental illness without support. I’ve heard people fear-mongering about this shelter — just a reminder that poor-bashing is still rampant even here in our quaint valley.
I have never met anyone who liked living on the street, it’s a constant struggle to survive, there is no comfort there, and just living through another hour is a challenge.
Then you have to deal with people who treat you like you are invisible, or the ones who cross the street to avoid you, as well as those who yell at you to get a job, when you have no fixed address, no contact number, are usually unwell, leave alone having a place to clean up, or any agency willing to offer real, practical help.
To the establishments that oppose this shelter, the poor, sick and homeless are here among you, and many of us buy goods, medications, and services from you now.
There are non-profits, a church and a few government services all within several blocks of the proposed shelter site, and the staff, volunteers and people who receive these services frequent your enterprises now, so I don’t see the rationalization of another service agency harming you.
I think a dose of reality is in order: with the cost of everything rising, many people are getting closer to one cheque between being housed and homeless.
The working poor, disabled, seniors, anyone on fixed income or any kind of assistance is dealing with poverty now, and the future does not look bright unless we become an inclusive community that looks after all its members.