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LETTER: Supportive housing helping to rebuild lives

Regarding Prosser Road housing in Central Saanich: there have been several studies comparing “Housing First” to “Treatment as Usual” in the support and treatment of people with mental health and addiction issues.

Housing First is the idea that when people have a safe place to live, they can rebuild their lives from a safe foundation. The Treatment as Usual plan meets people where they are, which is too often homeless. The supportive and affordable housing initiative on Prosser Road is meant to give people secure surroundings so they can feel safe enough to deal with their mental illnesses and addictions. This is hard to do when you are homeless and in survival mode.

The issue at hand may be that this project is not “dry” housing. The residents may be newly housed and still suffering from poor mental health and addictions. These issues are not a quick fix. It takes time for people who were previously homeless to transition from homelessness to a place of hopefulness for their future.

We should all thank our lucky stars if we have the privilege of living in a safe secure home with no fears of imminent danger. We just need to listen to the radio, watch the news or read the newspaper to imagine how the homeless suffer.

Ensuring wrap-around support services are available 24-7 is the key to the Prosser Road housing development working. No one wants the environment of Beacon Hill Park brought to our neighbourhoods. This is not the objective of Housing First. The objective is to house vulnerable people where they are safe, have privacy, and can access supports 24-7 to help them figure out a recovery plan. Safe housing is the first step in the recovery process.

I would accept such a development in my neighbourhood with the appropriate supports in place. People will grow and move to independent living at their own pace. There is no better reward than watching someone go from homelessness and hopelessness to actively participating in their own life in a hopeful, positive manner.

Sue Pazder

Sidney

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