I recently read a guest column in a B.C. newspaper entitled, Homeless are a Reflection of Ourselves written by ex-Victoria broadcaster Drew Snider, who spent seven years working at the Church/Gospel Mission in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The point of the article was that any one of us are really just one step away from being homeless. He cited a few examples from his experience working with the homeless: One guy made some bad business decisions that cost him his wife, family, income and was still filled with self-loathing and self-pity; others were injured on their jobs (e.g., one a construction worker on the Bear Mountain project; another a plumber whose knees gave out) which sadly led them from painkillers to drug addiction; one was a professional engineer who he described: “…his mind blew a piston and now rarely speaks in coherent sentences.” One was a teacher who fell into a drug habit; another, a senior, too old to work, and without a retirement plan spends his day pushing a cart around collecting cans and bottles.
He ended by saying succinctly, “We are not dealing with a ‘subset’ of society, but with reflections of ourselves.”
There are estimated to be 250 people who are homeless in the Comox Valley and 3,000 at risk. Many studies show conclusively that supporting the homeless with housing and support services is an investment that usually pays for itself, saving local money in the long run that would have been spent on policing and health care costs.
To the residents of Courtenay, Cumberland and Comox Valley Regional Districts please submit your ‘yes’ vote on Nov. 28, in the homelessness support service referendum to provide local non-profits with funds to reduce homelessness. Take the time to go and vote and make a wise financial investment of $5 or $10 a household and show the Comox Valley cares about those who could be a reflection of ourselves!