LETTER: What we all want: dignity

Pick up any media and the headlines will contain some hint of the financial burdens placed upon everyone from the middle class on down.

Editor, The News:

Re: ‘Homelessness is a mental health issue’ (The News, May 27).

Pick up any media and the headlines will contain some hint of the financial burdens placed upon everyone from the middle class on down.

At the bottom of the pile, you’ll find the homeless.

Unfortunately, what you may not realize is that good people could just as easily be that other person, drug addicted and homeless.

Government clawbacks and underfunded shelter rates, inadequate mental health services don’t meet the duality which often underpins the complex issues of homelessness.

Habitual homelessness is a different story.

Personally, as a person with a disability, I struggled with this dual diagnosis, which created chaos and huge suffering.

When I decided to take a different approach and learn about the issues that others similar to me faced, I realized that many didn’t have the ability to understand the system. And, as a result, the system hasn’t had sustainable results.

Instead, what we do have is Cliff Ave.

I staged a one-woman protest in 2011, organized a rally, gave presentations to committees and participated in community networking projects in addition to assisting others who don’t have a clear understanding of the legislation that governs their life; in my case, provincial income assistance.

I learned the legislation and the rules of MSDSI (income assistance) and Residential Tenancy to help those facing challenges.

I share my story because I have the same problems as many who have a home and those who don’t, and if not for circumstance, I would never know how to give authenticity because everyone needs help.

I understand the outrage of the property and business taxpaying citizens surrounding the funding for the homelessness task force for Maple Ridge.

I attended the update from council and I am convinced the Mayor Nicole Read has a very fluid plan that allows for redirection and will undoubtedly be put to task.

Thus far, small immediate relief for all affected directly at Cliff Ave., the property and business owners and the street citizens comes in the form of a portable toilet  to address the immediate concern of the sanitary conditions and in doing so gave what we all want: dignity.

While I empathize with the street citizens, and agree the financial assistance given does have too many financial hits for those who are trying to be contributors, only a change in policy can offer relief.

After giving shelter to a homeless man earlier this year for a short time, the frustration with the supports available and the compliance of the individual overrode any housing provided.

Key in that is compliance to common sense rules, and new routines are difficult without the right individual supports.

Having the right housing is key, but so are the policies that surround it to allow for the best possible outcome.

It’s more than time for all levels of government to get together and create programs that do the best possible job for the situation at hand.

Maple Ridge’s mayor and council are weighing through complex funding scenarios, looking for the best overall outcome for all homeless, not just for those camping on Cliff Ave.

At the end of the day, balancing the homeless issue also means preventing it.

Teal Quin

independent advocate

legislative poverty awareness

 

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