The short term danger is over, and fortunately there were no deaths or major injuries from the Sunday morning condo fire in Langley City.
Now the long and more difficult work of rebuilding begins. While the condos and the contents can be replaced, the community need to safeguard the lives of the displaced tenants.
While some of the residents owned their units, many were renters. Some did not have contents insurance, some are seniors on fixed incomes or people on social assistance.
Many – hopefully most – will have savings, and family and friends who can help see them through this difficult time.
Some will not. That is where we must step in, as a community, to ensure that there is a bridge to the future for these residents.
There are already far too many homeless people living on the streets of the Lower Mainland. All of them once had homes, most held jobs and had ordinary lives. Then their lives were disrupted – by drug addiction, job loss, family breakdown, spousal or parental abuse, mental illness, or a combination of factors.
For someone just scraping by, a fire that forces them out of a rental home can be just such an event. If there isn’t enough money in the bank for a first and last month’s rent payment, for replacing furniture and clothing and household items, for moving, for finding a pet-friendly home – it might be too much for a few.
It is very difficult to help homeless citizens find permanent housing again. It is much, much easier and cheaper to keep people from becoming homeless in the first place.
We must hold our leaders accountable to see this crisis through in the long term, over the coming years.