The province says there will be a second round of funding for modular supportive housing, so commnuities can re-apply.
For some, it can’t come soon enough. For others, it didn’t come soon enough.
A handful of people settled in on the front lawn of Nanaimo city hall Monday morning setting up a tent city homeless camp. They vowed to stay until the municipality takes action toward housing and addiction solutions after the city dropped the ball on a $7.25 million project, and lost 44 planned supportive units as a result.
The frustration some feel on the issue is understandable.
Homelessness has ballooned into one of the biggest issues on the Island and it isn’t always because of, or overlapping with, drug addiction. Some homeless people have sought out that way of life, for others, wrong choices, bad luck, mental illness or a combination of factors have led them where they are.
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Supportive housing was supposed to be one solution. A new NDP provincial government identified certain cities where a rapid response to homelessness was needed and depended upon those cities and partners to try to push the projects through quickly. Nanaimo just plain wasn’t ready, as it had just one piece of land identified, too close for comfort to a daycare and a school.
Even before the province took back Nanaimo’s $7.25 million in funding for supportive housing and reallocated it elsewhere – seemingly Parksville – there was a sense of hopelessness. Not only was the Chase River project dead, but there were no other potential sites being discussed.
The lack of leadership was frightening and needs to be addressed — not just in Nanaimo, but in virtually every sizable community on the Island.
Six months or so from a municipal election campaign, supportive housing needs to be moving the needle as an election issue.
Change comes where leadership intersects with those who want something so badly that they demand it and won’t settle. We have homeless people who want to be housed. A tent city must not be seen as a nuisance, but as a catalyst.
We’ve heard the call. Who is listening?