This lot on White Road in Duncan will be the site of a new supportive housing development. A similar facility will be built on Drinkwater Road in North Cowichan. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

This lot on White Road in Duncan will be the site of a new supportive housing development. A similar facility will be built on Drinkwater Road in North Cowichan. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Editorial: Give supportive housing the chance to work

Housing first is important, because it can help people to get out of survival mode

We hope that community members will give it a real chance.

In an editorial a few weeks ago we wondered what was going to happen to all the homeless people once the current COVID-19 emergency funding for temporary housing runs out. It took a pandemic to make it happen, but there was finally a move to find accommodations for all these folks, either in local motels or in temporary small tent encampments, rather than just leaving them to find a dry patch of pavement somewhere, string a tarp up in the bush, or hunker down by the Cowichan River where it runs through Duncan.

We have long championed the idea of housing first, so the announcement on June 18 that the province is building two supportive housing developments of 50 units each in Duncan and North Cowichan was very welcome news.

Housing first is important, because it can help people to get out of survival mode, and start to look at how they can get back on their feet. These units will also offer supports that many of these folks desperately need, including for mental health and addictions issues, and for employment prep.

Just cramming a lot of high-needs people into one spot and expecting them to fend for themselves and not bother the neighbours would have been a complete disaster. But supportive housing, with 24/7 staff, has proven very successful where it has been implemented, as noted by North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring. Paying rent to have their own space will give people a sense of ownership and safety.

In short, this is exactly what we’ve been needing in the Cowichan Valley.

Neighbours, in particular, are skeptical, and that’s fair. But we hope rather than rejecting the idea, and the new people moving to their area, out of hand, they will take the time to learn how this has worked in other communities. Siebring notes the success of a site in Parksville.

The province purchased the two sites, one at 260 White Rd., and the other at 2983 Drinkwater Rd., from private owners without consultation with the community, and some are upset about that. But realistically, there was no site they could have chosen that would have filled the needs they are trying to serve while making everyone in the community happy. And no, shoving people who have no transportation and are in need of public supports onto a rural property where they could be out of sight, out of mind, is not a viable solution. Haven’t we already been ignoring that they’re here long enough?

Evidence from other communities tells us this can work. Please Cowichan, give it a chance.

Editorialshomeless housing

Just Posted

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

North Cowichan’s committee of the whole have rejected staff’s recommendation to limit the use of fireworks to Halloween. (File photo)
North Cowichan rejects limiting fireworks to Halloween

Municipality decides staff recommendation would be unpopular

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

CVRD Area E director Alison Nicholson, right, hiked two hours to Waterfall Camp at the Fairy Creek watershed along with Comox town councillor Nicole Minion and Comox Valley Regional District director Daniel Arbour to meet with old-growth logging activists on Monday, June 7. (Submitted)
Cowichan Valley regional director visits Fairy Creek protest camps

‘They clearly communicated that they are committed to what they are doing’

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in South Island parkland

These birds don’t often touch down on their way between northern B.C. and Mexico

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding parnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Most Read