This lot on White Road in Duncan will be the site of a new supportive housing development. A similar facility will be built on Drinkwater Road in North Cowichan. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

This lot on White Road in Duncan will be the site of a new supportive housing development. A similar facility will be built on Drinkwater Road in North Cowichan. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Editorial: Give supportive housing the chance to work

Housing first is important, because it can help people to get out of survival mode

We hope that community members will give it a real chance.

In an editorial a few weeks ago we wondered what was going to happen to all the homeless people once the current COVID-19 emergency funding for temporary housing runs out. It took a pandemic to make it happen, but there was finally a move to find accommodations for all these folks, either in local motels or in temporary small tent encampments, rather than just leaving them to find a dry patch of pavement somewhere, string a tarp up in the bush, or hunker down by the Cowichan River where it runs through Duncan.

We have long championed the idea of housing first, so the announcement on June 18 that the province is building two supportive housing developments of 50 units each in Duncan and North Cowichan was very welcome news.

Housing first is important, because it can help people to get out of survival mode, and start to look at how they can get back on their feet. These units will also offer supports that many of these folks desperately need, including for mental health and addictions issues, and for employment prep.

Just cramming a lot of high-needs people into one spot and expecting them to fend for themselves and not bother the neighbours would have been a complete disaster. But supportive housing, with 24/7 staff, has proven very successful where it has been implemented, as noted by North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring. Paying rent to have their own space will give people a sense of ownership and safety.

In short, this is exactly what we’ve been needing in the Cowichan Valley.

Neighbours, in particular, are skeptical, and that’s fair. But we hope rather than rejecting the idea, and the new people moving to their area, out of hand, they will take the time to learn how this has worked in other communities. Siebring notes the success of a site in Parksville.

The province purchased the two sites, one at 260 White Rd., and the other at 2983 Drinkwater Rd., from private owners without consultation with the community, and some are upset about that. But realistically, there was no site they could have chosen that would have filled the needs they are trying to serve while making everyone in the community happy. And no, shoving people who have no transportation and are in need of public supports onto a rural property where they could be out of sight, out of mind, is not a viable solution. Haven’t we already been ignoring that they’re here long enough?

Evidence from other communities tells us this can work. Please Cowichan, give it a chance.

Editorialshomeless housing

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

Just Posted

Volunteer Suzanne Anderson rings her bell at the Christmas kettle at Thrifty Foods on Nov. 20. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Volunteers needed for annual Christmas Kettle Campaign in Cowichan

Money used for Salvation Army’s Christmas Hamper Program

Kendra Thomas from Warmland Women’s Support Services invites Cowichan residents to find out more about youth sex trafficking with an online event Nov. 16, 2020. (File photo)
Learn more about youth sex trafficking with ‘Love Bombing 101’

Nov. 22-28 is Victims and Survivors of Crime Week

Pnina Benyamini loved to be around people and people loved her. (Photo submitted)
Many facets to energetic Chemainus woman’s legacy

Benyamini taught yoga, belly dancing and more to an adoring public

Windy conditions in Nanaimo’s Lost Lake area. (News Bulletin file photo)
Wind warning issued for the east coast of Vancouver Island

Environment Canada says people ‘should be on the lookout’ for adverse weather conditions

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

Winston Blackmore (left) and James Oler (right) were sentenced on separate charges of polygamy this week in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
No more charges expected in Bountiful investigation, special prosecutor says

Special prosecutor says mandate has ended following review of evidence from Bountiful investigations

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Parksville’s French Creek Harbour experienced a diesel spill on Nov. 23 after a barge and fishing vessel collided. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Coast Guard cleans up diesel spill in Parksville’s French Creek Harbour

Barge carrying fuel truck collides with fishing vessel

Stock photo
Senior from Gibsons caught viewing child porn sentenced to 10 months

74-year-old pleaded guilty after police seized 1,500-2,500 images

BC Teachers' Federation President Teri Mooring is asking parents of school-aged children to encourage the wearing of masks when possible in schools. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
LETTER: Teachers union encourages culture of mask wearing in B.C. schools

BCTF President Teri Mooring asks parents to talk with children about wearing masks in school

Most Read