Former homeless camp on Nanaimo’s south downtown waterfront. (News Bulletin file photo)

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Rather than institutionalizing, let’s properly invest in services

The last thing many individuals sleeping rough need is a ‘Riverview redux,’ says letter writer

To the editor,

Re: Mayor says institutionalizing mentally ill who are homeless part of multi-faceted solution, Dec. 19.

In a twist on the words of French philosopher Jean Baudrillard, institutions exist to give the illusion there are places where people are institutionalized, so people don’t realize that in actuality, we’re all living in a kind of open sanatorium.

I’m sure there’s an argument to be had. Clearly, some individuals need the protection, space, and support of a safe place to receive help with addictions and severe mental health. We don’t need to talk about institutionalizing people, instead scale up and fund existing health and social care services to meet the need.

What worries me about the language of confinement creeping into the emotive subject of homelessness, is it creates misleading feelings of nostalgia for the ‘good old days,’ which we know weren’t so good for many people ending up institutionalized. I suspect the last thing the majority of individuals occupying shelters, or sleeping rough across Nanaimo need is a ‘Riverview redux.’

It’s a tough call, and many people are reaching compassion fatigue adjusting to the reality we have a huge problem to solve. House prices have skyrocketed, with renovictions and demovictions weakening the supply of affordable rentals. More lives are filled with financial uncertainty than a decade ago. We have a staggering death toll from illicit drugs in B.C., almost 4,000 people in the past three years, and an epidemic of loneliness and disconnection. Institutions will not make that go away.

Mark Busby, Nanaimo

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Institutions not ideal, but better than status quo

READ MORE: B.C.’s homeless, vulnerable only receive adequate care when nearing death: study

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.

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