In Response to Letter “Stop Inviting the Homeless” printed October 29, 2014:
Vereena, I can assure you that the individuals experiencing homelessness in Abbotsford are likely not flocking here from other communities for the abundance of social and health services being offered to them. The most recent responses to homelessness in Abbotsford have included rejecting a proposal for provincially funded supportive housing and spraying manure on a homeless camp. The City of Abbotsford is hardly rolling out the welcome mat and “inviting them into our community” with these actions.
Homelessness is a complicated health, social, economic and political issue that all communities across Canada manage.
Providing necessities of life, such as food, water and clothing to citizens of our community does not “enable” homelessness and to suggest so shows a lack of understanding of the interconnection of issues central to homelessness. This argument places the blame of poverty, social exclusion and lack of resources onto individual citizens, and removes responsibility from government policies and systems to respond to these issues.
I invite Vereena to educate herself about some of issues and challenges these individuals may be managing on a daily basis. The Social Determinants of Health: The Canadian Facts (http://www.thecanadianfacts.org) is an excellent resource for beginning to understand how social, economic and political policies shape the lives of everyday Canadian citizens and our access to resources. It is easier to moralize the issues of poverty and homelessness, by suggesting these are personal choices made by individuals who “do not want to follow the rules”. This argument does an injustice to our community as a whole and narrows the lens required to develop and implement lasting policies for change.
Jorrie Alary, Mission, BC