A Burnaby homeless shelter useless without services to support it
It was interesting and telling that almost all of Page 3 of the Feb. 1 NewsLeader contained an article about a mentally ill man who a fellow tenant was concerned about, that he gets the help he needs and whether he will “be out on the street and become another statistic for society to deal with.”
Then much of page 6 and 7 of the same paper is based on a conversation the editor had with our Mayor, Derek Corrigan, regarding a permanent homeless shelter in Burnaby. On more than one occasion, I have asked our mayor about his position relating to housing for the homeless. I have been relieved that he is a believer in those who are homeless receiving the care that is needed to treat those suffering with mental illness and/or addiction issues, which are significant contributors to homelessness.
And I agree that merely housing a person overnight and sending them out in the morning to the “candy man”/drug dealer or to fend for themselves for the day, whether wet and cold or dry and blazing hot, and cope with whatever challenges they may have is grossly unfair to those individuals in need of mental health support, addiction services or support that will help them move to becoming active, successful members of our community.
By successful I mean able to function and succeed and develop self esteem and pride in their actions and abilities. Merely housing those who are suffering challenges not addressed makes as much sense as covering a weeping wound with a bandage but not treating the underlying infection.
Sheltering folks for the night might make some folks feel like they are doing something good but does not address the underlying problems.
One just has to visit the Downtown Eastside. The significant human tragedy is easy to see, and a clear indication that a great number of people are not receiving the resources required for them to lead healthy lives (i.e. at the very least, mental health and addiction services).
Provision of these services is a provincial responsibility. Any municipality declining to take on these responsibilities is being responsible to their citizens.