Editorial: Getting Duncan homeless into low barrier housing essential

It’s also the right thing to do

It must have been a huge relief for the residents on Lewis Street to have the authorities come in on Monday and Tuesday and clear out the homeless people and their accumulated belongings and trash.

We had numerous complaints here from people about how bad the problem had gotten, and photos of the area by reporter Robert Barron show the piles of stuff and dozens of shopping carts that had previously littered this short city street, encroaching on people’s properties.

Nobody would want to live in those conditions. Which brings us to the inevitable question: the homeless were being moved out of Lewis Street, but where would they go? Nobody seemed to have the answer to that question. The bald truth is that there is nowhere for them to go at present.

The Duncan area desperately needs a low barrier housing complex that these people could call home. They need bachelor suites where they can leave their belongings, make a little bit of food, and keep themselves clean. It needs to be supported by professionals who can ensure that it doesn’t become a dump, and that the people there are safe and have access to services if they choose. The Warmland Shelter and the new women’s emergency shelter are doing great work, but it’s clearly not enough.

Some question why we, collectively, should foot the bill to give them housing if they’re not willing to take steps to solve their problems and fix their lives. We argue that it’s a lot better than inflicting squalor and mayhem on people’s neighbourhoods by leaving them homeless. It’s also the right thing to do — they are human beings, in bad circumstances, yes, but human beings all the same. They have a better chance of turning things around with a roof over their heads. Housing first policies have been proven to work.

Locating such a facility will be extremely challenging. But we can’t afford not to do it. We know that the status quo is a bad option. Just ask the residents of Lewis Street.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cowichan Capitals add two points to lead over Clippers

Tensions between rivals come to a head in third period

Work has started on Malahat Skywalk, expected completion in 2021

$15-million project expected to open in spring, 2021

Baby Bear statue returned to be reunited with Mama and Papa

Culprit left it near the Henry Road roundabout in Chemainus with a note attached

Cowichan Estuary Nature Centre launches new project

The Nature Centre’s goal is to continue to engage the local community

Isles offence picks up against Peninsula

Kerry Park better at both ends of the ice in winless weekend

VIDEO: Feds look to help 126 Canadians quarantined in China for coronavirus

China has confirmed more than 4,500 cases of the new virus, with more than 100 deaths

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Uber threatens legal action to ‘defend its right’ to operate in Surrey

‘I have no concerns,’ Mayor Doug McCallum replies

Victoria resident says WestJet employee uttered racist comment, refused to let her on plane

Customer claims she was told ‘You guys can’t handle your alcohol’ by WestJet employee

Bystander who tried to help dog being attacked not liable for its death: B.C. tribunal

Owner of dog killed tried to get $5,000 in damages from man who tried to save it

INFOGRAPHIC: See how fast your B.C. city grew in 2019

The province’s fastest-growing municipalities were located on Vancouver Island

Landowner hearings begin for Trans Mountain expansion in Alberta

Detailed route talks start in Spruce Grove, in B.C. communities soon

Alessia Cara to host and perform at 2020 Juno Awards

Multi-platinum Canadian singer-songwriter also up for six awards, including Artist of the Year

Watch out for scams, clickbait in the wake of Kobe Bryant’s death: Better Business Bureau

Kobe Bryant and his daughter were killed in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles

Most Read