Re: “$100,000 bill for repairs after protesters occupy Nanaimo school,” Oct. 9.
Anti-poor, anti-drug-user hatred is resulting in a gross misuse of resources on southern Vancouver Island. There has been so much talk in the media about the cost of tent cities and homeless campers when the focus should be on the social and material cost of continuously moving and policing people due to stigma and hatred.
How much money has been spent on policing that could have been spent on housing and other supports? How much did it cost to send the RCMP to forcibly remove poor, homeless people seeking shelter from a building that was not otherwise being used?
Criminalization, stigma, discrimination, disconnection and lack of compassion are what drive poverty and homelessness. We might think we have done nothing to contribute to “the homelessness problem,” but what if we take a deeper look at the implications of our approaches to homelessness?
Punitive, unkind and hate-based approaches contribute to the kind of social climate in which people need to form tent cities, squat in abandoned schools and otherwise struggle to have their basic needs for food, shelter and connection met.
A punitive, hate-based approach to homelessness will only give rise to greater inequity, disconnection and, ultimately, more homelessness. If what we want is a society without homelessness, the way to get there is through kindness, compassion and listening to what homeless people say they need.