Homelessness is a complex and challenging issue. Firstly, it is difficult to respond to a fabricated, fictional story, such as John Harding’s editorial on Nov. 5. But, what I can do is share facts on homelessness that are based on research, implementation and the hard work our government and community partners are doing to tackle the issue here and across the province.
While it may not be known widely, through my constituency office we have successfully helped several homeless individuals and families who were living in our parks and campgrounds, or fleeing an abusive relationship, or were under threat of becoming homeless.
Finding appropriate housing, accessing income assistance, addressing medical issues, sharing direction for employment opportunities and connecting with the school district, counselling services and food resources just scratch the surface of how I help my constituents access the resources available to them.
In Parksville and Qualicum Beach, our government invested more than $1.3 million in 2014/15 alone to provide subsidized housing and rent supplements for more than 520 households. During the same one year period, we invested $27,000 in emergency shelter and housing for the homeless in the region.
That local funding is just part of the $213 million provided last year to support more than 13,200 emergency shelter spaces across B.C., as well as subsidized units and rent supplements for people who were homeless.
Our efforts are making a difference. Today we have more than twice as many provincially subsidized housing units, rent supplements and shelter spaces as we did in 2006. These are crucial resources to help the homeless, as well as those who are at risk of homelessness.
No one is denying more work must be done. We will build on the hard work that has already been accomplished and continue to partner with non-profit groups, municipalities and the private sector to help provide housing and other supports to people in need.
I care about all my constituents, and if you or someone you know is homeless or threatened with homelessness, please come by the office, call 250-248-2625 or e-mail Michelle.Stilwell.MLA@leg.bc.ca for immediate assistance.
Michelle Stilwell, MLA Parksville-QualicumMinister of Social Development and Social InnovationParksville