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LETTER: Supportive housing addresses a growing community need

I am writing as a former minister of mental health and addiction in Manitoba and as a current resident of Central Saanich in support of the supportive housing and affordable housing initiative on Prosser Road.

For those who are afraid of bringing addiction and mental health issues to our community, I must shock you and say that these issues are in our community now. The best way to deal with these issues is to provide a welcoming community that is supportive of people. I am pleased to be a member of the Central Saanich United Church that wishes to welcome and support these people in need of love and support.

The second reason why I am in support is that permanent supportive housing has been found to be cost-efficient. Providing access to housing generally results in cost savings for communities because housed people are less likely to use emergency services, including hospitals, jails and emergency shelters than those who are homeless. Homeless people simply can’t find employment.

The third reason why I am in support is that it is virtually impossible for many people to afford housing. Couples with children making the median income would need to spend almost half of their monthly income on shelter costs, while single-parent families would need to spend 100 per cent. Housing has simply become too expensive for too many people in our community.

The fourth reason why I support this project is one study found an average cost savings on emergency services of $31,545 per person housed in a Housing First program over the course of two years. Another study showed that a Housing First program could cost up to $23,000 less per consumer per year than a shelter program.

When I served as an MLA I understood the importance of housing for all people in my constituency. I worked to create a dialogue and build bridges between housing projects and the community rather than divide. There are enough people right here in our community that need these homes now. We must all work to welcome, support and engage with our neighbours. I encourage all of us including MLA Adam Olsen to build bridges of understanding and acceptance rather than walls. We have all learned from our southern neighbours that walls are expensive and simply do not work.

Jim Rondeau

Central Saanich

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