Affordable Housing – The Kamloops Study

By Mike Archer. Today contributor Win Wachsmann sent us a copy of the Kamloops Affordable Housing Study.

The study is a shining example of the untruth of Mayor Banman’s attempts to keep the responsibility for homelessness as far away from his municipal government as possible. Kamloops looks at its citizens differently than Abbotsford does.

Kamloops doesn’t differentiate, as Banman and much of the power structure do, between deserving and undeserving citizens. As far as Kamloops is concerned, citizens are citizens are citizens.

Discriminating against certain kinds of citizens by denying them healthcare services, harassing them, using the police to chase them around town or the parks department to poison them with chicken feces – all of which sounds a lot like cleansing the city of vermin – is a particularly Abbotsford kind of response to the misfortune of our neighbours.

From police chief Bob Rich’s ‘displace and disperse‘ policy to the decision by Councillor John Smith, Chamber of Commerce Director and Councillor Bruce Beck and downtown developer Bob Bos to tell Pastor Christoph Reiners of the Peace Lutheran Church to stop feeding the homeless, to Smith’s assertion to the CBC that the Abbotsford Police and the Abbotsford Bylaw Department were about to deal with the homeless in a serious manner … we have tried the low road and it hasn’t worked.

It is high time we try the high road, abandon the discriminatory, hateful and failed policies which have merely led to bodies in our alleyways and crushed souls living in our ditches.

Abbotsford’s high and mighty have always had a real problem with learning from our neighbours. And yet our neighbours have lots to teach us. Langley and Chilliwack have taken a housing first approach to homelessness and, despite being card carrying members of the Bible Belt they have set aside religious beliefs and prejudice in favour of a humanitarian love for their fellow citizens.

Kamloops has taken a verycollegial approach to its situation and come up with a plan to deal with the local issue locally. The study is a worthwhile read for anybody interested in solving the Abbotsford Homeless Crisis as opposed to ridding the community of the homeless.

For a downloadable PDF of the study simply click here

The Study

[excerpts] The Kamloops Housing Board is proud to be a part of this community project with the City of Kamloops, and the Kamloops Homelessness Action Plan. The Kamloops Housing Board was formed in 2010, in partnership with the City of Kamloops and the Homelessness Action Plan, as a body to address issues related to housing and homelessness in Kamloops.

The mandate for the group is as follows:

The primary purpose of the Kamloops Housing Board will be to collect, analyze and distribute housing information in order to facilitate informed planning to address housing related issues in the community. Together with the support of the City of Kamloops and the Social Planning Council, the Housing Board will become an avenue to discuss recent trends, to evaluate supply and demand, to establish community priorities in an open forum, and to discuss policy and legislative reform where deemed necessary.

The purpose of the study is to attempt to understand need and demand for specific types of housing within Kamloops, with the aim to improve the provision of affordable housing overall. We had four objectives when we set out on this process.

  • To inform municipal policy decisions regarding affordable housing in Kamloops
  • To assist non-profits, businesses, faith groups & other organizations in the development of affordable housing
  • To inform the work of the Kamloops Homelessness Action Plan
  • To provide accurate information to the community related to affordable housing

When people do not have access to appropriate and affordable housing the result can be extreme for
both the people who are in need, and for the whole community. When people aren’t housed they can
enter into a cycle of poverty that can see them utilizing public resources such as shelters, public housing,
police, ambulance, and hospital services. The Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health & Addiction
estimated that it costs $55,000 a year to provide services to someone who is living on the streets in B.C.,
while it could cost as little as $37,000 a year to keep that same person in supported housing.

Core Principles in Ending Homelessness

  • Housing First
    The idea behind Housing First is that everyone deserves and needs a stable, appropriate home. In the past we sometimes approached the issues of homelessness from a model of ‘housing readiness’ or movement along a continuum of service. We now understand that the first step towards anyone’s success is a permanent home.
  • Evidence Based Practice
    Research & evaluation are valuable tools in being able to measure the success of our interventions. When we develop starting points and goals that come with measurable outcomes, we can make sure that we are truly making steps towards ending homelessness.
  • Partnering Across Sectors
    Many community members must be at the table to bring knowledge and resources. And new ways of approaching housing through partnerships must be developed and implemented.

“We need all the different types of
housing models in order to address
homelessness. There is no one solution.
We need government subsidized units;
we need mechanisms like the Rental
Assistance Programs; we need nonprofit/
private partnerships with a
variety of contributors. Homelessness is
a community issue and requires a
societal response.” Louise Richards, Executive
Director, Kamloops & District Elizabeth Fry Society

For a downloadable PDF of the study simply click here

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