Community Partner Addressing Homelessness Questions
1. There are many contributing factors to homelessness and it is a complicated issue but I believe the main factors are violence and abuse, mental illness, unemployment and a vicious cycle. One of the barriers is housing and there is no one fit solution for all people experiencing homelessness. A couple more barriers are economic security and the linkage between healthcare and housing.
2. We need a short term and long term plan to meet the needs of the unhoused in our community! Short term solutions could be utilizing the empty business space downtown for shelters and food delivery. Long term solutions like the First Avenue facility with full wrap around supports is a good start. We need to build the second and third phase of the project and staff it appropriately. That takes partnerships, resources, collaboration and cooperation. Also, I would like to explore the idea of repurposing the youth containment center if indeed it is underutilized.
3. I believe the city has a significant and important role with regards to supporting people who are unhoused and living in encampments. We don’t need a confrontational approach to people living in an encampment situation. This approach doesn’t work and the city wasted a lot of money and resources by fighting their short sighted decision to move people out and take it down.
4. I would be a strong advocate at the council table for thoughtful, compassionate, collaborative approaches to this difficult challenge facing Prince George and cities around the world. We need to build strong relationships with governments, community organizations, businesses, health care authorities and more to work together to come up with a short term and long term plan with achievable goals. Myself and council members can lobby locally, provincially thru UBCM (Union of BC Municipalities) and with the federal government.
5. Communication that is honest and open and includes all voices is essential to moving forward in a positive way! I would strongly advocate for this type of communication and believe forming society like Medicine Hat created is something we should explore. They have had great success with this model and as of June 2021 Medicine Hat achieved and maintained functional zero homelessness!