Supportive housing needs to go ahead

Recently, I attended a gathering hosted by Concerned Citizens of Nanaimo to discuss proposed supportive housing on Uplands Drive.

To the Editor,

Recently, I attended a gathering hosted by Concerned Citizens of Nanaimo to discuss proposed supportive housing on Uplands Drive.

Although the majority present did not like the choice of the Uplands location, they were respectful when several of us spoke in favour of this project. Since results of my earlier research on supportive housing differed from that presented by some Uplands opponents, I feel compelled to elaborate.

My research included Duncan’s Warmland House, The Balmoral in Nanaimo, and housing in Kelowna, Vancouver and Seattle.

In each case, initial fear and concern about the housing was dispelled as the facilities opened and neighbours saw the benefits to all.

Attitudes changed. Residents came to embrace both the concept and the reality. Some of the most vocal initial opponents became actively involved in the housing. Residents reported their neighbourhoods had improved with the opening of the housing facilities. Duncan elementary school children even work in food gardens at Warmland alongside Warmland residents.

While volunteering with the Extreme Weather Shelter, I’ve seen how grateful, respectful and considerate the clients are.

They are eager to help one another and enjoy the sense of community experienced there. What a difference a permanent home with support and guidance would make in their lives.

Douglas Hardie, chairman of the South End Community Association, spoke about the success of the Balmoral Hotel project. To confirm for yourself, visit www.nanaimosouthend.ca or speak with south-end residents and business owners.

Perhaps there could have been more public input in choosing project locations. Perhaps city council will choose to do things differently in future.

Obviously, we can’t go back in time, so let’s move forward and work together to eradicate fear and homelessness in Nanaimo.

Lynn Burrows

Nanaimo