‘HOMELESSNESS IS CAUSED by poverty, so we have to tackle poverty by creating more housing.
‘Once we get everybody housed, the crime-addictions-mental illness situation on our streets will resolve itself.’
That’s a common logic used as cities across the continent struggle with the same issue, and Kamloops is no different. How often have we heard that a) it’s a myth that providing services attracts more homelessness and b) building more supportive housing is the answer.
The first argument — that homelessness is a home-grown issue, not an imported one — has yet to be proven. I’ve yet to see evidence that the homelessness problem here results from Kamloops residents losing their jobs and their homes and ending up on the street.
Maybe it happens in some cases but logic suggests there’s more to it than that. And there’s evidence that putting the addicted and the mentally ill together in large apartment buildings makes it harder, not easier, to get well.
A study I’ll refer to below found that 80 per cent of those experiencing homelessness, mental illness and addiction in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side have moved there from elsewhere.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops, former TNRD director and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a recipient of the Jack Webster Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He can be reached at email@example.com.