Homeless are not ‘The other’ — they are us

I would like to respond to the “fear-based” rhetoric that has been used in an attempt to drive opposition to a well thought-out, community-wide process for supportive housing in Parksville, to address the needs of our most vulnerable citizens living in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area.

Who are the vulnerable people living in substandard apartments or basement suites coated with black mould, (shivering) in tents, vans, RVs or shelters in the woods? They are mothers, fathers, children, grandmothers, grandfathers, families, sons and daughters.

They are not “others;” they are part of our community. They need our compassion and support, they do not deserve judgement, they deserve a community who cares, who will show together we can make a difference to alleviate suffering, through connecting vulnerable individuals to supportive housing in order to address systemic inequalities, and help people reach their potential and achieve their dreams.

I am a registered nurse who has spent my career working with vulnerable clients. I can demonstrate through my work and through peer-reviewed research published with affiliations with the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University that a housing-first model works. The emphasis is on a community-based pathway of care connecting individuals with health care services — including a recovery pathway.

This approach is based on relationships and trust to address health care, substance use, education, and career counselling, to promote change and support a circle of care that provides health and social services that are client-centered and aligned to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

Housing is the first step. I applaud Parksville council, Qualicum Beach council and the Regional District of Nanaimo for uniting and coming together to attempt make a difference in our community for our vulnerable citizens!

Doreen Littlejohn, RN

Nanaimo

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