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LETTER: Affordable, supportive housing a critical piece of society

Safe, affordable housing is at the base of so much of what contributes to a functioning society. Unfortunately, in this beautiful place, our cost of living has reached a point that can be near impossible to maintain.

As someone who is employed and has a spouse to share the burden, I still find we are on the edge of what is considered affordable rent simply because there are few options, and the definition of affordable is unrealistic.

In 2015 my husband and I lived in Vancouver with no savings to speak of. After I lost my job, my husband got sick and was off work for two weeks without pay. It’s the kind of thing which can be a catalyst in someone’s life. We had supports – family in Victoria and a sympathetic landlord. Luckily, I did eventually get a job. When I reflect on this period, I see we could have lost our home and our lives could have changed dramatically.

There is no one reason a person might end up homeless or in need of supportive housing. Many of us have held (or do hold) assumptions of who a person in supportive housing might be. It could truly be almost anyone who doesn’t have a support network on their own. Many of the fears around supportive housing are already issues in every neighbourhood. They’re simply hidden, allowing us to pretend they don’t exist.

There is strong evidence that supportive housing creates an environment that allows residents to grapple with whatever challenges their ability to have a safe place to live. It allows them to get the help and resources they need, providing them with the possibility of becoming independent again.

Imagine yourself with no savings, no close family supports and you lose your job or suffer an injury which stops you from working for an extended period of time. Initially, you cope, but more than likely stresses which might not have been an issue before become more pronounced. Consider the toll of this stress on your mental health and what it could do to your health and well-being. Do you think you would continue to make all the same choices or have the ability to do so?

Sidonie Buicliu

Victoria

affordable housing

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