LETTER: The fiscal reality of inaction on homelessness

Fraser Valley lacks sufficient detox treatment spaces

Re: Letter to the editor by Jackie Newman (Nov. 19) offers the opinion that an addict should successfully graduate from detox before being housed.

If the Fraser Valley had sufficient detox spaces to service the 121 individuals (estimate provided in the Nov. 19 letter), perhaps I would agree.

Yet several years back Fraser Health – in its wisdom – closed down the detox centre at Chilliwack Hospital.  And current openings for detox treatment are simply not readily available.

Last year I met a young man in our local psychiatric ward who was there for an extended period of time, waiting for a detox bed to open up.

Further conversations informed me that he was not the only patient in that position.

I am not saying that all addicts deal with mental illness, nor that all folk with mental illnesses are addicted.  It’s up to professionals to make any such diagnosis.

However, particularly when mental challenges and addiction overlap, we as a society are acting in neither a morally acceptable, nor a fiscally responsible manner.

Since preaching ethics is seldom successful, I will focus on the fiscal reality of inaction. We can continue to do exactly what has been done in the Downtown Eastside for over two decades. We can continue to spend tax dollars on misdirected health care, extra police hours, legal costs in court, and even garbage pickup (wet comforters are less than useless).

Or we can try to do something different.  And I believe housing individuals whose options are extremely limited is at least a beginning.

Regina Dalton, Abbotsford