LETTER: Those needing housing supports are neither thieves nor predators

The people who use Forward House are kind, generous, established citizens of Parksville Qualicum Beach. They are not thieves, nor predators. They are individuals, living in this community, who are experiencing mental health challenges such as depression and anxiety, as so many of us do. And yes, some of these people struggle with addictions as well.

Many of them live below the poverty line, on disability benefits, and struggle to find suitable, affordable market housing. While many of them are unable to work full-time, they contribute to the community by volunteering, working casual or part-time jobs, going to school, and being good tenants and neighbours, despite often living in sub-standard conditions. We see the amazing generosity and support these individuals give each other on a daily basis through sharing resources, giving encouragement, and offering friendship.

Many of our more than 80 clients live in homes that are mouldy, rodent-infested, and far below the standard that most of us could, and should, bear. For community members below the age of 65, there is virtually no warm, clean, and safe affordable housing in this community. For our seniors, there is a very limited amount of affordable housing available .

The proposed housing at 222 Corfield St. would allow our clients to live in clean, safe housing with the added bonus of wrap-around supports from our Housing Outreach Support Team (which some are already accessing) and the experienced support workers at Island Crisis Care Society. Being downtown means that they can continue to access the supports they need, like Forward House.

Living at 222 Corfield would be a great opportunity for these community members to be wonderful neighbours and friends to others who need them, while also thriving themselves. These folks have battled stigma throughout their lives — please show them that Parksville Qualicum Beach is a caring and supportive community that truly cares for those who are courageous enough to ask for the supports they need not only to survive, but to thrive.

Sharon Welch, MA, CPHR

Executive director, Forward House

Community Society

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