Dear Mayor and Council: Please accept this letter as my support of this initiative. I am employed in the downtown core of Abbotsford and am very familiar with the issue of homelessness in the area.
I have experienced firsthand on many more occasions than I care to count having to deal with a homeless person asleep in our doorway when I was the first person to arrive to work. I have never had a bad experience when talking to and encouraging the person to move on as we have to open our doors for the business day and cannot have them hanging around. They have always been understanding and moved on for the day but only too often they return when they know we are all gone for the night.
One experience in particular was with a young man I believe that was recently homeless as he did not have the hardened, weathered look about him yet. It was difficult to wake him from his sleep; I had to attempt to do so several times. He seemed disoriented, startled and frightened by his situation. He agreed to quickly move on and after he did we discovered that he had a knife on him for his own protection (he had left it behind).
How safe is it for these men to be sleeping on the street when they have to carry a knife with them for protection?
Why would we not support a possible solution to this dilemma? What is a better scenario, somewhere that they can be housed and receive help for their addictions or continue to have them sleeping in the doorways of businesses, spend a ridiculous amount of money having the police move them along, only to have to come back in a day or two and do it all again.
We need to allow the experts in this to do what they know will work. We have to try something to alleviate the homelessness in Abbotsford, to offer a helping hand to our fellow citizens instead of shying away and casting a blind eye. Offer these men some dignity and respect. None of us know the life and struggles they have had to deal with. None of us have the right to judge but we do have a moral obligation to provide the opportunity to these men to take a step towards helping themselves.
I believe this will benefit the downtown core, not hurt it. Is it not better for businesses if there are less homeless people in the downtown area? These men will no longer be homeless once they have been screened and accepted into the supportive housing project. The key words here being screened and accepted. Abbotsford Community Services is one of the largest employers in the area providing many essential services. What better location for this housing project then on their back door step. What better monitoring and checks and balances could you have than the landlord right there?
I ask that you make an informed decision regarding this issue. Thank you for taking the time to read my letter of support.