Editorial: Modular housing for the homeless in Duncan: location, location, location

Likely whatever spot is eventually chosen will be controversial.

Low-barrier, modular housing is needed to get people off the streets in Duncan.

But finding a place to put it that will be acceptable to the community will be a real challenge. Likely whatever spot is eventually chosen will be controversial. It seems almost inevitable that some folks are going to end up being angry.

But here’s the thing: either these folks are living in the modular housing in Duncan, or on the streets of Duncan. For everyone involved, the first is the better choice.

Modular housing units like these are usually part of a “housing first” model to deal with the problems of homelessness, mental health, and drug use. What it does is get the people off the streets into somewhere warm and safe where they are not constantly living in survival mode. Then, officials can begin to work with people to address the various issues that had them out on the street in the first place. Shelters like Warmland House are great, but people are not allowed to use drugs there, which often leaves the most problematic still out on the street, where neighbourhoods must deal with the undesirable things that come along with them. What must not happen is simply throwing up housing units where these people can be warehoused, and forgotten. The follow-ups must be in place for this to be a bridge to long-term solutions like drug and mental health treatment.

Not everybody is going to want the help offered, at least not right away. Many will object to the government paying to keep a roof over these people’s heads with our tax dollars if they do not want to make positive strides. But we pay one way or another. Either it’s modular housing with treatment avenues, or it’s packing prisons with sick people, or leaving them to carry on as they have been on the streets of our neighbourhoods. We argue that the two former options haven’t worked. Time to try the first one.

But the location must be chosen very, very carefully.

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