Street people, homeless, mentally challenged and substance abusers need a hand up

Elliott Street Supportive Housing Development could be answer we seek

The City of Quesnel has an opportunity to become a socially responsible leading-edge community in British Columbia.

Quesnel has some lost souls in our midst.

They wander our streets.

They are looking for food, a warm place to sleep and they’re looking for help and companionship.

Some of these lost souls are looking to get high. They have substance abuse issues, and whether they know it or not, they need help.

Some of these poor souls have mental-health issues; they’re confused, afraid and need a safe haven.

Most of these unfortunate people are in Seasons House or they’re homeless and living on the streets.

We, as citizens of Quesnel and members of our greater community need to help poor souls get food in their bellies, have a warm and safe bed and get the help they need to become productive members of our community.

All of these avenues of help lead to the proposed Elliott Street Supportive Housing Development with its 28 independent supportive housing units, four supportive recovery units, eight emergency shelter beds and 10 extreme weather beds during the winter.

Housing is the key that opens the doorway to health – both mentally and physically.

Having a home is directly connected to having hope!

When asked about the amount of callouts for RCMP assistance and the cost, Melanie MacDonald, executive director of Seasons House and operator Quesnel Shelter and Support Society, told council homeless shelters and homeless people draw heavily on emergency services and are not cost-effective.

She added, however, supportive housing is cost-effective because the number of calls for emergency services decreases.

Some folks think if addicts are going into treatment, they should go “cold turkey.”

MacDonald added that in substance abuse and long-term addiction, the “just-say-no approach doesn’t work.

“If you take that hard stance, you’re really closing the door on someone who needs help.”

BC Housing regional manager Malchy Tohill added it’s more about teaching them life skills – cooking, how to look after themselves, education, helping them clean up their units – and the next goal is to get them connected to community services, such as mental health and addiction help services.

One of the biggest issues we have to get over if we are going to be socially responsible leaders is our perception of homeless people and folks with substance abuse issues.

Some people see homeless people as the hobos who jumped on trains and travelled around or worse as drug addicts.

Now they are people with different levels of mental issues and drug addicts are our siblings, parents and the people in the suits who live in the penthouse.

Whatever our perception of these poor souls or however hardened we are to their pain and suffering, we have to reach out and give them a hand up.

There but for the grace of God go I.

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