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LETTER - The current homelessness policy is simply not effective

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Dear editor,

Thanks to Olivier Lauren for reporting on our local homeless population in the Jan. 24 edition of the Record.

It is a sad situation here and in most other cities and countries. Our own family recently lost a 36-year-old member to homelessness and subsequent overdose due to drug addiction.

J. Gould (We expect action from our elected officials, not procrastination, Letter to the Editor, Jan. 24, 2024) rightly points out that homelessness is not a challenge for local charities or religious groups to tackle. Let’s suppose that our local government and charities do miraculously open a large residence to house our homeless. The word would spread like lightning throughout our province and within days it would be filled to overcapacity. It cannot be a long-term solution.

A shallow dive on the internet about homelessness is very informative. The Canadian Homelessness Research Network describes homelessness in Canada is as follows: “Homelessness describes the situation of an individual or family without stable, permanent, appropriate housing, or the immediate prospect, means and ability of acquiring it. It is the result of systemic or societal barriers, a lack of affordable and appropriate housing, the individual/household’s financial, mental, cognitive, behavioural or physical challenges, and/or racism and discrimination. Most people do not choose to be homeless, and the experience is generally negative, unpleasant, stressful and distressing.”

For a short history of homelessness in our country, please see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homelessness_in_Canada

Finland adopted a holistic approach to homelessness about 15 years ago called “Housing First Approach” which has been so successful that this country now has the lowest level of homelessness in the world. Other countries claim to routinely adopt this model but with varying success. It is clearly a matter of priority for the federal and provincial governments where it has been successful.

This concerned citizen feels it is the role of our local, provincial and most importantly, our federal government, to step up and help this disadvantaged Canadian population. The current homelessness policy is simply not effective.

Dorothy Wignall,

Courtenay





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