On March 31, the St. John the Divine emergency shelter opened its doors to the homeless for the last night this season. The seasonal emergency shelter, run by the Victoria Cool Aid Society in St. John the Divine Church, lays out 40 mats a night for people who have nowhere else to go. Now those 40 mats are no longer available for those in need.
But homelessness is not a seasonal issue. In 2011, according to the Greater Victoria Report on Housing and Supports, 203 people were turned away from Rock Bay Landing for a shelter bed in the month of August. And even more were turned away in September and October, prior to the St. John the Divine shelter opening in November.
The question is: Are we saying as a community that when it’s warmer outside that it’s acceptable for people to sleep outside? The answer is clearly no. This position implies that just because people are not at risk of dying from exposure, that it’s acceptable that they do not have a home.
Every person in our community deserves a home, or at the least, a warm, dry place to rest their head at night. My thoughts are with those 40 people who had to scramble to find a place to sleep after April 1.
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