HomelessAll people need to be treated with respect including the homeless and disenfranchised. We need to support the care communities and agencies that are working with them.
Abbotsford has a population of homeless that cause disruption in neighbourhoods. They have been shunted from one area of the City to another. The City has treated them with extreme prejudice destroying their belongings, spraying their campsites with chicken manure and having the police target them.
Homelessness is the result of not only bad decisions and lifestyle but also for many a result of mental illness. According to the 2014 Homeless Count, there were 151 homeless in Abbotsford. Over half had addiction problems, almost a third had mental heath problems, a quarter had medical conditions and 20% had physical conditions.
Abbotsford has not found a solution:
- Abbotsford formed the Abbotsford Social Development Advisory Committee (ASDAC) in 2006 in part to address the homeless problem – councilor John Smith was chair but it failed to develop a plan,
- An Memorandum Of Understanding with Abbotsford Community Services was signed by the City for homeless housing but the plan was rejected this year,
- The Abbotsford Homeless Task Force was formed this year co-chaired by John Smith and Patricia Ross. Its two recommendations were to 1) Hire a Homeless Coordinator at a yearly expense of about $100k and 2) Establish a Homelessness Action Committee. The remainder of the recommendations were reiteration of the current situation.
- There is still no tangible plan or policy to treat the homeless with respect or give them the opportunity to end their plight.
Abbotsford needs a rational plan to address the needs of the homeless. Such a plan should be developed over time. However, their disgraceful treatment needs to stop now. If an alternative is not available to them, then they should not be discriminated against.
My Expertise and Position
Despite the reason for being homeless, everyone needs to be treated with respect. These are people in need and they should not be punished if we cannot meet their needs. At the same time I do not condone the destruction of private property or harassing behavior.
My position is that the plan should not be centered on City Hall but should support those who have cared for the homeless for such a long time. We need to incorporate consultation with the homeless and the current aid workers in the planning. The plan should seek to integrate the support of such agencies as the MCFD, the FHA and the federal government. The plan should create an environment where the efforts of all the care givers are coordinated and supported.