Sunday, March 15, 2009

Homeless situation dire from Vanderhoof to Prince Rupert

"Homelessness means not having a safe place to sleep."-- Herb, a homeless resident of Smither's outlining the basic need of those without permanent shelter.

If there's one article that the province's politicians, municipal, provincial or Federal need to read this week, it's this current item from the Tyee's Sean Condon, a review of the nature of the homeless problem outside of the large centres, away from the many study groups and funding announcements, out where the daily struggle to survive is measured by having a safe place to sleep.

Condon examines the nature of homelessness along the Highway 16 corridor, where the shells of burned out hotels in communities from Prince Rupert to Vanderhoof outline the fate of the last home of refuge for many.

From those that have been rousted out of their jungle camps in Smithers, to the tiny ten bed operation that the Salvation Army operates in Prince Rupert out of a local hotel, the dire need is one steeped in conflicting community interests and what appears to be a poor sense of communication between government agencies and politicians and officials.

While he outlines the success of some of the programs in Prince George, even there the daily struggle to house the homeless begins anew. It is still not the best of situations there, but at least there is a bit of hope in Prince George.

Once you make that turn towards the Pacific ocean, a good number of people are falling through the cracks, being disregarded with rather uncomfortable frequency, invisible to all except those living in their communities.

Condon provides the questions for the politicians, it remains to be seen if any of them at any level pick up the theme of his investigation and begin the process of turning around a rather dire situation.

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