It is important to try to address the concerns of the neighbourhood where the Salvation Army shelter is proposed to be built. (THE NEWS/files)

Letter: Housing First leads to reductions in costly services

Brave leadership is sorely needed.

Editor, The News:

I support the provincial initiatives to replace the Salvation Army facility and to provide housing for the burgeoning number of people in Maple Ridge who are homeless.

The proposed building sites have been carefully selected after many attempts to make choices that will work for our people. There is another storm of protest, but no site meeting the criteria of access to services most needed by those who will be housed would be easily welcomed

Of course it is important to try to address the concerns of the neighbourhood and to make arrangements to ensure their safety and well being. Surely buildings with staff and supports are better than what currently exists at a tent camp. And the loss of the valuable services rendered by the Salvation Army for so many years would be incalculable.

In a wealthy society such as ours, it is shameful that so many who want to be housed are bereft of this basic need. As well, research shows that Housing First leads to reductions in the many costly services in health and policing employed daily in attempts to mitigate the risks to which people lacking an address are constantly exposed.

It is tough for politicians to take the heat, especially when the criticism they have faced has often been virulent and ugly. However, by now it is evident that the time for action has come. Brave leadership is sorely needed.

I believe that our citizens will respect courageous decision making. Many projects have been built in the face of rampant opposition. The people of Maple Ridge know that they already live with facilities that welcome the hard to house, treat the addicted, and provide for those who simply cannot afford a place to call home in the third most expensive metro area in the world, where rental vacancy rates are the lowest they have ever been.

I urge people to support the projects presented by BC housing. They are essential to the future well being of our community.

Linda King

Maple Ridge

Editor’s note: Ms. King is a former Maple Ridge councillour.

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