As the city looks for new ways to take on some of the challenges of the homelessness crisis, it has discovered that it will take different kinds of partnerships.
Nanaimo city council was faced with costly choices last week in its efforts to create a drop-in centre for people experiencing homelessness.
The idea, previously discussed, was advanced earlier this year. Organizers of Nanaimo’s tent city on the grounds of city hall asked that the municipality take measures toward addressing homelessness and a drop-in centre was part of a suite of actions approved by council, along with $100,000 annually.
As the planning continued, city staff discovered that it was going to take more money than anticipated for the kind of drop-in centre envisioned. According to a staff report, judging from the experiences at a similar facility in Victoria, a drop-in centre would need four staff members each day to be able to provide outreach and maintenance and everything else that would come along with the job. Now the annual bill is looking more like $650,000, and so the city will ask the province for help.
It’s certainly worth a try. Not every solution to the homelessness crisis is working and some are long-term programs, while in the meantime, problems are visible in this community and others. Nanaimo, if it attempts to be a leader on something like this, could receive the support it seeks from a provincial government that has to consider all options in a crisis.
A drop-in centre with an array of services would present chances for people who need a hand to make connections. The alternative might be for them to look elsewhere on the streets, be presented with different choices and take different paths.
A drop-in centre at any cost won’t be palatable to citizens. At some point, someone has to make the decisions as to which strategy will provide value for dollars. The city is essentially asking the province to play a part in that decision-making on a new solution to a difficult issue.