Need new homeless approach

Use cash outreach workers to supplement rental charges

Editor, The News:

Re: Task force IDs lack of housing (The News, May 22).

During the municipal election campaign, Mayor Nicole Read claimed to know where to find funding to address the challenges of our homeless population.

She claimed to be very successful and well versed in applying for federal funds and that there was money to be had.

As a member of the audience, I was frustrated to sit and watch people actually nod their heads in agreement that there must be some magical federal money available.

Now that Read is mayor and has not produced the ‘magical money,’ council is taking $160,000 from reserves (savings) to pay for  four outreach workers for six months.

Quick calculation:  $160,000 for four workers for six months equals an annualized fee of $80,000 per outreach worker.

Will the homeless situation be resolved with this money or at the end of six months will council simply take more money from taxpayer savings to continue paying workers the equivalent of $80,000 per year?

“Tracy, Linda, Anita, they’ve been shuffled around so long … “ Read said, then continued to explain: “We have a whole housing conversation going on in the background.”

If a lack of affordable housing is the problem, then take the $160,000 and supplement the rent expense of some of our most vulnerable residents for a six-month period and see if that makes a difference.

The challenges faced by our homeless residents are not new and there have been funds spent on outreach workers and various support programs for years, but the problems still remain.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome, right, Albert Einstein?

In addition to needing a new approach, we need to acknowledge the fact that it is not possible to force residents into treatment or shelters that they are not interested in.

Having said that, I am guessing that some of our homeless residents may potentially be interested in different shelter options when the weather turns rainy and cold.

So, use the summer months to secure additional housing units that are available for October or November, but please do not keep doing the same thing over and over again,  expecting a different outcome.

Angie Rowell

Maple Ridge


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