LETTER: Housing needed to tackle rising homelessness problem

A Langley resident responds to a letter about the proposed housing project.

Dear Editor,

After reading a recent letter to the editor written by Mr. George Blachuras, [“Langley’s proposed social housing project misses mark”] I feel compelled to write a letter in response.

The Quality Inn/Supportive Housing proposal is an important opportunity to begin tackling the rising homelessness problem in Langley.

Finding affordable rental options is a struggle for many employed or retired individuals. Those struggling with homelessness are facing a similar lack of housing and support options.

As a passionate volunteer in our community, I have spent a lot of my spare time trying to find ways to help our neighbours experiencing homelessness. None of this had anything to do with political correctness, but more with trying to alleviate the struggle even for an hour or two.

Sadly, there is only so much well-meaning community members can do. When housing is so critical to helping someone turn their life around, housing immediately becomes critical.

The housing-first model has been proven to be successful in other cities. Supportive housing is more than just a bed for the night, it is stable housing with support services on board.

I have attended the BC Housing Open Houses and I have heard all of the arguments against and in support of this project. Yes, there is fear and a sense of risk involved. My question remains, can we afford to maintain the status quo? Would seeking upstream solutions help us create a healthier community more quickly?

Currently, we treat the “symptoms” associated with homelessness in Langley. There are programs that offer meals and do their best to offer temporary shelter options, still we have a growing homeless population. Perhaps, the no-barrier, supportive housing model is a move toward getting to the root of the problem?

A person that is seeking employment or wishes to receive treatment for addiction, would benefit from permanent housing. The location of the Quality Inn project is not perfect, but it is more than we have now.

As a community, are we blaming all our problems on one segment of the population? The fact is, homeless people are not solely responsible for our property crime rates, or drug trade, quite the opposite.

It is my hope that the Township continues the consultation process and doesn’t wait until after the election to continue.

We have the opportunity to take part in creating a solution to a very heartbreaking problem.Poverty doesn’t only harm those experiencing it, there is a burden on the province’s social service and healthcare systems. Reducing poverty/homelessness would end up saving the system and the tax payer money.

Either way, we benefit from collaborating to find a solution to this crisis. We are past the point of ignoring the problem, or encouraging these people to move along to another community. We need a comprehensive plan because poverty or homelessness just doesn’t go away. Is the perceived danger truly insurmountable or is compromise possible? It is time now, to figure that out.

Stacey Wakelin,

Langley

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