We don’t need any more studies. We don’t need any more round tables, or committees, or consultations. We know what is needed to solve the interlocking problems of drugs and homelessness in Langley City.
In no particular order, we need:
• More drug treatment spaces, available quickly when addicts want to get clean,
• Supportive housing,
• Expanded mental health services, and
• A long-term expansion in subsidized housing for people on social assistance.
Is there much disagreement out there about what we need?
Left, right, and center, we know that we can’t simply throw the addicted, mentally ill, and chronically homeless into jail. We can’t keep moving them along from one encampment to the next, passing the problem from city to city like a game of hot potato. We know that without one of the legs of drug treatment, housing, and mental health, the whole thing will collapse.
We don’t even need political will. Everyone wants to solve this. The province, the feds, communities like Langley, Surrey, and Maple Ridge, certainly want to see it solved.
And we know it can be solved. Homelessness has grown much, much faster than the rate of population growth. The vast majority of the people on the street now were housed 10 years ago. They had homes, and that made any drug or mental healthy issues much easier to treat.
What we need is simple. We need money, and a lot of it. Unfortunately, that’s the one thing that’s in short supply, even when it’s obviously the only way to solve the issue.
It will cost. But it’s costing us more to do nothing.