By Regina Dalton. I support the concept of a village that houses individuals who currently have only Abbotsford streets to call home.
The Abby Digs proposal makes sense to me because of the following :
1) Location :
The proposed location is beautiful — to borrow a phrase, it is “country within the city”. The site is sufficiently distant from both the transfer station and the recycling depot that one is not even aware of their proxmity. The former does not handle dangerous goods, and employees of the latter keep their work place as neat and clean as possible, so neither will contribute to health concerns.
2) Proximity to Abbotsford :
The distance to Abbotsford’s downtown is manageable. There is bus service a few blocks away, and the possibility of a volunteer shuttle service is also being considered.
3) The quality of the people on the Abby Digs Board :
Since the Board is comprised of everyone from business people, to service providers, to long-time residents to those who are currently homeless, many opinions have been shared and respected. These folk are not fly-by-night, but rather serious individuals who are working towards a serious solution.
4) Approach :
There has been no element of “let’s just throw this together, and hope for the best”. Time, individual resources (as opposed to tax dollars), much energy and a willingness to listen to others are earmarks of those wanting Abby Digs to work.
Other cities similar in size to Abbotsford have seen this type of housing operate successfully, with Portland’s Dignity Village being a prime example. It has been operating for 14 years, and Portland’s city council agreed with a recent study that recommended it be allowed to continue.
6) Willingness to start small, yet ultimately become expandable :
The proposal is that a small number of residents begin the process of turning the property into their home, thus guiding the project from idea to fruition. At the same time, the size of the designated location is large enough to allow growth in numbers.
7) Services to the people rather than the other way around :
A “community” hall will be available for service providers (and interested community members) to present their expertise in many forms — everything from workshops on navigating the maze of social services, to training in health and safety, to food prep.
8) Best for last — this solution can happen NOW :
The Abby Digs proposal could be up and running before another winter takes a toll on those who are presently forced to sleep ouside without proper shelter.
Please do not think I am idealizing this proposal — I know there will be challenges. I also know that those who have initiated this plan are there to see it through, and that the village residents will be able to count on the support of many people to ensure this vision becomes successful.
Editor’s Note: This letter of support was sent by Regina Dalton to the Abbotsford Dignitarian Society which is hoping to build a Dignity Village-style housing alternative on Valley Road in Abbotsford. Mrs. Dalton supplied Abbotsford Today with a copy
To find out more or to contribute to the Abbotsford Dignitarian Society simply click here.