LETTER: Homelessness is not a crime

The treatment of the small group of homeless campers at Goldstream has been an insight into the attitudes, lack of meaningful action and the stigmatization of homeless people in our communities.

The campers there now are actually activists putting their security and safety on the line to communicate to government and to society at large how the issue of homelessness, poverty, mental health and addiction have not been addressed and the urgency needed on this issue.

Closing the park to the public and isolating these people from the rest of society, their families, friends and support people is a glaring example of the manipulation by government and media to further stigmatize, to create actual hate and resentment in communities, to encourage NIMBYism and divisiveness instead of support.

Horgan and his government announced last week that they will be evicted on Oct. 1 and will be forced out of the park by the next day. The statement that alternative housing will be provided for these people was not true.

As of Saturday, only two campers will actually be provided with housing and others will be going to shelters while they, yet again, wait for transitional or permanent supported housing.

Shelters are not the answer, they are for emergencies only. Walking around all day with your “stuff” in a shopping cart, waiting in line for meals, waiting for shelters to open and separating individuals is in no way helping to move them out of poverty.

This has been a long term crisis that has not been at all adequately dealt with. These human beings are being shuffled from pillar to post like they are some kind of contaminated product . This form of treatment is appalling in a wealthy society such as ours.

The amount of dollars that the officials are quoting for policing could have been put toward permanent and sustainable solutions as opposed to having officers standing around 24/7 keeping people “safe.” Closing the park, isolating people and then evicting them yet again, only succeeded in creating more animosity toward the campers from the residents living nearby as well as others following this facade and buying into all the fear tactics.

That being said there are many of us who support these people and will continue to support them and oppose the dehumanizing, cruel and irresponsible actions of the governments.

There are solutions. It is proven to cost less to house people, support their transitions to a meaningful existence than to deal with one crisis after another, police costs, hospital emergency admissions and all the rest of the wasted efforts to deal with homelessness as people fall through yet another widening crack and are not provided with the basic necessities, housing and support. Housing is a human right, homelessness is not a crime. These people need to stop being treated as criminals.

Bev Joy


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