The Victoria Cool Aid Society’s plan to more than double its supported-housing units offers hope for the homeless — and tangible benefits for the community.
With the aim of eliminating homelessness in Victoria, the society hopes to raise $4 million to build 360 apartment units by 2018, adding to its current inventory of 351 units.
If $4 million can eliminate or drastically reduce homelessness, it will be money well spent and everyone should back the effort.
Anyone who has worked with street people knows mental illness is a significant factor in homelessness. Cool Aid executive director Kathy Stinson says homelessness started to become a problem in Victoria in the 1970s and ’80s when governments began emptying mental institutions, putting people on the street who didn’t have the means to look after themselves.
“The consequences of homelessness tend to be more severe when coupled with mental illness,” says the Canadian Mental Health Association policy statement on homelessness. “People with mental illnesses remain homeless for longer periods of time and have less contact with family and friends. They encounter more barriers to employment and tend to be in poorer health than other homeless people.”
Cool Aid’s plan is more than providing shelter — clients will have supervision to help them learn to be good tenants and good neighbours.
Give people a home, help them become healthy, give them the opportunity to learn life skills — it’s the right thing to do for them and for everyone else.
© Copyright 2013