A chance to be 'normal'

Our city and province have grappled with homelessness for decades. Finally, we are making progress to end this unacceptable situation.

The fears of seniors protesting the supportive housing on Agassiz Road need to be acknowledged. I am a senior.  I live near Capri, but what I would most prefer is that the people who camp, off and on, just over the wall behind my townhouse had a real home to go to – not necessarily far, but at least theirs and at least indoors – safer for me, safer for them!  

This is happening in a neighbourhood full of seniors and seniors’ housing and “respectable” people. I am much happier living in gratitude for the options created for my less fortunate neighbours, than in worry and fear over the desperation of their plight and how it might come back to bite me.

The new building on Agassiz Road is a place where people can normalize their lives. They already have community support workers who know and relate to them, and now they have a chance for a home.

The models in Kelowna where this housing has been established have quietly gone forward because of the lack of issues surrounding the developments. Instead of people living in dysfunction: sleep-deprived, cold, sick, malnourished and preyed upon by others, as on the street, they live in decent surroundings, with access to adequate food, to medical, psychological and social support.

If we cannot see our fellow, albeit unfortunate, human beings as worthy of support, then we prolong the grief of all of us. We will keep on encountering “these” people. We’ll trip over them in our parking garages, hedges, parks, in front of our grocery stores, at the lakefront, and, finally, in emergency rooms, psych wards and morgues, because there is, effectively, no other option. 

There is no way for them to live normally among us, but to live normally among us.

Peggy Salaberry

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