In a community as rich in human generosity as Sooke is, it is startling to learn of the plight of so many of our disadvantaged. They are the ones we don’t see in our day-to-day travels around the town. They are the ones sleeping under bridges and in the bush. They are the truly poor.
It doesn’t matter what got them there or what they did, what matters is that they are among us. There are many options for them to get a meal or a hot cup of coffee, but what is missing is some sort of housing for those who are homeless. They may not want to be in an apartment or a room somewhere. What this province needs to do is to acknowledge that we have a serious problem and do something about it. There are communities who have tackled the problem and come up with micro-housing for their homeless.
If local councils across the province were to insist that developers pay an “amenity” for a certain number of homeless “shelters” depending on the size of their proposal, we could have the problem licked. This doesn’t mean the homeless are housed on the development, it means money goes into a housing budget which is supported by all levels of government. It wouldn’t be a tent city, but it could be a block of micro-units in a place which would be suitable to this sort of “alternate” community.
There has to come a time when food banks, homeless shelters in church basements and soup kitchens cease to exist. We are among the wealthiest countries in the world and we should be embarrassed that we cannot or will not look after our most vulnerable. Our priorities are skewed and we need to examine them. Most people on the street don’t choose that life, they are forced into it through unfortunate circumstance. There are many who are only one pay cheque away from the same fate. What would you do? Who would help you? How can you help?