LETTER: Homeless headline misleads

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Thank you very much for providing front page coverage of the release of the sixth annual Report Card on Homelessness for Nelson, released on June 17.

The story on the report card’s findings helps residents of Nelson better understand the realities and faces of homelessness in our community.

The dozens of member organizations and individuals and supporters of the Nelson Committee on Homelessness also work hard to address these realities and assist people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless to stabilize their housing situation, their health, their lives, and in turn the life of our community. The report card also speaks to this.

Your headline “Nelson failing the homeless population” couldn’t be further from the truth, and I think misrepresented the tenor of the story and the report card.

This is the little community that could. We have assertively sought out increasingly-limited resources and forged strategic collaborations to address housing and homelessness issues, and then generously added value to these resources through community effort, with many success stories over the years.

It is true, though, that provincial income assistance rates have not changed in seven years, while the cost of food and rent and utilities continue to rise, leaving someone living on $610 per month income assistance unable to pay the average 2013 one-bedroom Nelson rent of $772.

It is also true that our federal government is the only one in the western world that has no National Housing Program, and has gutted Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, once a national institution whose housing programs (private market and social) were the envy of the world.

But please don’t leave the impression of laying the blame on the community of Nelson. We are, together, what makes things happen!

Also, Nelson Cares was the sponsor of the report card, Housing First and community planning event, contributing to the many costs of the day.

Ann Harvey

Community Coordinator

Nelson Committee on Homelessness

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