I have worked as a community nurse for mental health and addiction programs and other public health programs in two northern communities, the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver and here in Parksville.
Housing first initiatives and supportive housing give individuals an enormous boost in their recovery. I have seen it time and time again in my 38-year career.
Housing and shelter initiatives are successful when located where the need arises, (primarily in city and town centres), when staffed with trained community-minded and compassionate people, and where liaisons are created with various service providers, (primary-care physicians, rehab programs and employment/volunteer programs and landlords).
Supported independent living programs have been running in District 69 over many years. Having individuals assisted with activities, living in decent accommodation close to health and social services, close to transportation and shopping, shows such a program was successful with little community concern.
The initiative of a shelter has been needed for more than 25 years and is well overdue.
I would rather hear visitors to our district comment, “Isn’t it heartwarming that this community takes care of its vulnerable people,” rather than “Why doesn’t this community take care of these street people.”