Calling people experiencing homelessness squatters divides neighbours along lines of class, says letter writer. NEWS BULLETIN file photo

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: People who are homeless are residents, not squatters

Column’s sneering at homeless people puts forward a few skewed claims, says letter writer

To the editor,

Re: Too few questioning homelessness myth-making, Opinion, Oct. 25.

Tom Fletcher’s angry, extended sneer (hardly a column) against homeless people puts forward a few skewed or unjustifiable claims that need to be addressed.

First, Fletcher suggests that tent cities tend to be features of the “soft-politics urban regions” of B.C. as if they are unique here. This is not true as conditions of poverty see “tent camps” springing up in every province as people have few or no other options. The politics that support housing as an investment rather than a human right are hardly “soft-politics.” They have quite harsh outcomes.

Second, Fletcher waves the standard stigmatizing banners of “do[ing] anything but work to support their bad habits.” Many of what Fletcher himself calls the “new generation of street people” are in fact working formal jobs. It could also be added that living on the streets is itself hard work as is maintaining a camp site.

Third, Fletcher complains that homeless people and their supporters are organizing. Why wouldn’t they? Businesses organize, investors organize, politicians organize, police organize. It only makes sense that people with minimal resources, facing life or death circumstances would organize to take care of each other.

Fourth, Fletcher makes a distinction between “residents” and homeless people or “squatters.” This is false. The homeless people living in our neighbourhoods are also residents. Making such a false distinction is a way of dividing neighbourhoods along lines of class, property, and ownership, and nothing more.

Finally, Fletcher offers a few anecdotes from his acceptable “residents” but says nothing about the fact that some residents in Nanaimo, who pose themselves as respectable citizens, have aligned themselves with the neo-fascist Soldiers of Odin to confront people living at the tent city. That is where anti-homeless rhetoric can lead.

Contrary to Fletcher, this resident has had enough of poverty, homelessness, social deprivation and the forces of accumulation, development, speculation, and policing that sustain them. I welcome any homeless person in my neighbourhood – a neighbour.

Jeff Shantz, Department of Criminology, Kwantlen Polytechnic University Surrey

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Feel compassion for those who are outside in the cold

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: No quick fix on homelessness

PHOTOS: City cleans up Discontent City homeless camp


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.

Just Posted

Genealogy exploration can uncover unexpected connections

Kathy Jones will present Beginning with Genealogy as first ElderCollege talk Feb. 23 in Nanoose

Kidney Foundation trying to keep patients warm this winter

Kidney Foundation of Canada’s Warm the Sole campaign takes chill off dialysis treatments

Nanaimo RCMP to host summer youth camp

Youths can discover if they have the mettle to be a Mountie at five-day camp in July

GUEST COMMENT: Temporary emergency shelter just part of solution

Setting up temporary emergency shelters was and is a reasonable response

Nanaimo Theatre Group will start its season by staging a farce

Self Help follows married second-rate actors who become famous self-help coaches

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

Ammonia leak shuts down curling club in Nelson

It’s not yet clear when the leak was detected

Pavelski’s 31st goal helps Sharks top Canucks 3-2

Vancouver one point out of second NHL wild-card spot

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

New museum exhibit presents Nanaimo mysteries

Nanaimo Mysteries exhibit unveils city’s fiction and even stranger facts

Most Read