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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: People experiencing homelessness unlucky

Poverty, illness and marginalization don’t equate to decrepitude, says letter writer
We’ll all be better off when people experiencing homelessness have a place they can honestly call home, says letter writer. File photo

To the editor,

Re: Nanaimo has soured from what it once was, Letters, July 9.

Contrary to the letter writer, I’m a brand-new resident. Comparing Kelowna, the last place I lived, to this city, I’ve noticed, as she has, an uncomfortable number of homeless people, as well as the material evidence they leave behind: shopping carts, possessions, tents, garbage and so on.

The letter writer historicizes that it wasn’t always this way. Nanaimo was once a “hidden gem,” safe, secure, and “with a sense of virtue.” She turns her eye back to the “culprits,” who are not just guilty of wrecking this moral paradise, but are “obnoxious, self-entitled,” careless and shameless vandals and petty thieves.

Another analysis is of course possible. I see those who congregate in certain areas of the downtown as the unlucky, and those who huddle all alone as even worse off. Economically forsaken and socially challenged, surely some of them also have mental health issues, commonly found in this population. This is the look of poverty, illness, marginalization, and scrappy survival, not moral decrepitude.

I understand Nanaimo subscribes to the philosophy of ‘housing first,’ a client-centred and recovery-oriented approach to ending homelessness. The 80 units of temporary supportive housing that were put in as a short-term solution next to my apartment building will soon be replaced by permanent housing, again, right beside me. We’ll all be better off when these folks have a place they can honestly call home.

Dianne Varga, Nanaimo

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Nanaimo has soured from what it once was

To the editor,

Re: Nanaimo has soured from what it once was, Letters, July 9.

We read and hear about the dismay that the sight of homeless people and drug addicts is causing some people in Nanaimo.

Society has changed radically over the past few decades. We see the changes on our streets, but the locus of these changes is hidden behind ivory towers.

It is now known that three billionaires own half of all the wealth in the U.S.A. In Canada more than $350 trillion is hidden in tax-free offshore accounts. Those figures mean that social services and low-cost housing are squeezed out. The top wealthiest layer do not care about that.

Timely drug treatment and rehab are desperately needed. Nanaimo and surrounding areas are in dire need of psychiatrists. There is a very high incidence of childhood trauma among drug addicts that has never been addressed.

So much is hidden underneath the sad sight of the homeless person. They are the scapegoats of this society that is being strangled at the top by the wealthiest layer.

When you see some poor soul on the street, look beyond him or her and look to the causes squarely, at the top.

Madeline A. Bruce, Nanaimo

The views and opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the writer and do not reflect the views of Black Press or the Nanaimo News Bulletin. If you have a different view, we encourage you to write to us or contribute to the discussion below.