Vancouver is a beautiful city – but they have a dreadful situation around Gas Town on the East side –
The needle exchange programme there attracts the most desperate of drug users. Now Victoria has very similar problems around their NEP.
Mayor promises to find homes for 50 of the most troubled homeless people; plan expected have ‘enormous’ impact
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Victoria Mayor Alan Lowe promises the city will sweep off the streets 50 homeless people who are shooting up drugs and causing conflict downtown within four months.
The move, which makes good on recommendations contained in task force report released last week, should have an immediate and dramatic effect as the the group is one of the most visible symbols of the substance-abuse, mental-health and homelessness problems plaguing the city. Lowe said the first community outreach team called for in the report will be “up and running immediately,” and will find homes for the 50 “hardest to house” homeless people within 120 days.
One of the most visible examples of the city’s homelessness and addiction crisis is the needle exchange on Cormorant Street. Many of the most troublesome homeless people hang out there, leaving a trail of filth, faeces and needles.
Currently, the 50 people have nowhere to go, so often are sprawled outside the needle exchange on Cormorant Street or Streetlink on Store Street, amid feces, filth and scattered hypodermic needles.
The City of Victoria task force action plan unveiled last week aims to find 1,550 housing units over the next five years for the homeless. Within a year, the city plans to find accommodations, through rent subsidies, for 350 people.
The Vancouver Island Health Authority has kicked in $7.6 million toward the effort to deal with the homelessness and addiction crisis – more than $3 million of that going toward the creation of four outreach groups, dubbed “Assertive Community Teams,” to provide support to people on the streets, in shelters or supportive housing. Another $1.7 million is earmarked for adult detox treatment.
Victoria lawyer Stewart Johnston, who is leading a court action to shut down the needle exchange near his law office, said helping those individuals and finding them a place to live will change the entire look and feel of downtown Victoria. “If you take the worst 45 to 50 off streets, and then another 300, the difference would be enormous,” he said.
Police have estimated about 45 people are causing most of the problems around the needle exchange, Johnston said. Housing that group of people “would make all the sense in the world,” said Rev. Al Tysick of Our Place Society. A meeting on Friday should better clarify how the 50 people will be selected, he said.
Victoria police acting chief Bill Naughton agreed the plan will have an immediate and “very significant impact. It could also make easier the job of police, who continue to shuffle homeless residents from one doorway to another as business owners complain. Police can’t solve the housing piece of the puzzle but we recognize how important it is,” Naughton said.
Police estimate a group of 324 homeless, addicted and mentally-ill people were responsible for 23,033 police incidents over a period of 40 months, at a cost of $9 million. Some of the hardest to house will go to the soon-to-open Our Place Society drop-in street shelter and transitional housing complex, “but I don’t think it is a good idea to put them all in one location,” Lowe said. “They need to be dispersed, as long as there are support services available to follow the individuals.”
Victoria Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe said the plan is to use rent subsidies to place people throughout the region in existing housing. As long as there is “support wrapped around the individual,” and landlords have a housing team they can call around the clock, such placements are highly successful, she said.
Source Times Colonist Oct 2007
COMMENTS ON THIS STORY
Wed, Oct 24, 07 at 04:54 AM
There’s big talk about getting these poor souls off the street & I applaud that action. Now let’s not forget their greatest needs which are continuing health care, mental health care, rehabilitation programs, AA-NA,co-dependancy, abuse& anger mgmt programs ‘for all’ not just a chosen few & no endless wait lists! Then there’s self esteem courses, budgeting help, education & training… I could go on forever with the needs of these persons as they are obviously going to require a myriad of complex treatment to fully recover as it’s more than just addictions now….. There was a time when they thought “oh, I’ll never become an addict, I only do it when I party”, but that devils dust got hold of them and has had them in its grip for a decade or more! Maybe rather than a cheque each month (which at this date is generally being used to support addictiions),until they are stable they get Rent ‘paid direct’ & food credits, & laundry facilities, to assure that the $ are spent on essentials to help keep them healthy & clean…. After all the proof is in the pudding that so far the funds have been supporting habits. That wouldn’t change just because there’s a roof over their head. Not without some type of cautions in place. Maybe to encourage them to attend programs they could earn incentives… These ideas and insights come from the heart of a mother of 2 addicted daughters. Why do I care? Because I have a mother’s heart.When I counted their ten tiny little toes this wasn’t the dreams & hopes I had for my girls….. So when it comes to my girls I can only live 1 day at a time, no making plans with them for days ahead. I go to bed & wake up saying tpraying ‘ Serenity Prayer’, and dreading the knocks on my door or the calls that may be the time someone tells me they’re lost to me forever……….. Please just sign me :’Mom of 3 & Grandma of 6′
Wed, Oct 24, 07 at 03:57 PM
As a former long time Victoria resident, I think I should warn you that BC is THE destination for drug-loving lowlifes from the rest of the country. Build it and they will come, no sooner will you get rid of the current crop and the next batch will arrive from Ontario, Quebec, or other eastern provinces. BC should be petitioning the feds to make it possible to deport bad apples to their homes.
Wed, Oct 24, 07 at 08:57 PM
Nick above has it right. Some people need to give their heads a good shake. Surely you must realise that if we citizens of Victoria start (continue) putting our taxes towards free needles, food, shelter etc for those who themselves put the needle in themselves, the flood gates will open. So let me see if I have the picture straight! If I shoot up, leave needles in the street, deficate publically, beg, sleep in someone elses doorway, or have a dog I don’t want to give up you are going to give me a place to live??? Sounds good to me, where do I start and can get a free dog please?