Dear Mayor and Councillors. On behalf of Mennonite Central Committee, British Columbia (MCC BC) I am writing in support of the proposal by Abbotsford Community Services (ACS) to build and operate a 20 bed Supportive Housing Project for men who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The need for supported housing for people who live homeless in Abbotsford has been confirmed through various studies completed by MCC BC since 2004. This proposed project responds positively to this confirmed need and is aligned with the city’s homelessness and affordable housing strategy.
Furthermore, the proposed project will use a housing first approach. Expanding the housing first approach is much needed in Abbotsford. Various rigorous research studies, including a study done to determine the effectiveness of Canada’s “At Home Project”, have proven the success of this approach with regard to homeless people who live with mental health and/or addictions issues. In simple terms the housing first approach posits that until you have a stable roof over your head, it is difficult, if not impossible, to adequately address other issues such as addiction and mental health.
Drawing on over 40 years of experience in the not-for-profit sector ACS has a broad knowledge of the community and the needs and issues related to Abbotsford’s diverse population. ACS is an accredited agency and recognized as a provider of quality services that support a healthy community. ACS has a strong reputation for innovation and collaboration with other community partners.
MCC BC has collaborated with ACS and Fraser Health to successfully established and operate Positive Living Fraser Valley, a society that provides care and support to people living with HIV/AIDS. As part of this process MCC BC and ACS worked together to establish the high protein food bank as part of the Abbotsford food bank to cater for the dietary needs of persons living with HIV/AIDS. MCC BC and ACS continue to collaborate on issues relating to homelessness, the need for affordable housing, and the Abbotsford Connect event. The latter is an annual event that provides avenues to homeless persons to connect with existing social services in the community.
I confirm that concerns and questions raised by residents of Abbotsford, including residents and business owners and operators of downtown Abbotsford represent issues that need further constructive, sincere and fact based dialogue and processing in a transparent and honest way. To this end I believe that ACS has the capacity, expertise and will work collaboratively with other service providers, community agencies and the Downtown Business Association to come to a common understanding as to how best and safely develop and operate a supportive housing project that will be an added value to Abbotsford. I am therefore imploring ACS leadership to continue with the process of consultation and conversation with neighbours, concerned business owners and residents of Abbotsford including downtown Abbotsford.
This supportive housing project is much needed in Abbotsford. If you have questions or want to further discuss MCC BC’s support for this project please contact the undersigned.
Ron Van Wyk, D.Phil
Associate Executive Director
CC: Rod Santiago, Executive Director Abbotsford Community Services Society
To find out more about the project click here.
To read about the ACS Supportive Housing Debate click here.