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Monday, October 24, 2011

Much more on the Supportive Housing debate

Below are links to a number of news storys and letter on the Suppotive Social Housing debate. Many I have commented on and in a couple of the storys I am mentioned. PS; this may be a bit long for some tastes:)

Oct 24
Women's centre supports low barrier housing
As one of those that worked on the ad talked about in this story I sincerely hope that this story will spur the many other organization and citizens in the community to publicly state their support. We cannot allow a few people to spread fear and misinformation gathering others into their misguided endeavours.

Letter: Comments from meeting very discouraging
Letter: Fear mongering must not ruin opportunity
A couple other well written and informative letters about Supportive Housing; it is heartening to see many more of Nanaimo’s citizens writing in support of Nanaimo’s Homeless Plan.

Letter: Seniors also in need of affordable housing
This letter is right in that affordable housing is needed for seniors, it is also need for all ages. Where he does miss the mark is that many of the homeless are seniors with addictions and they will be helped through low barrier housing. There are many other seniors that suffer from addiction to prescription meds as well and they to need to be housed in an environment supportive of their needs.

Oct 22
Uplands site was the most suitable for low barrier housing says city planner

North-end residents vent at meeting about low barrier housing
This was the one where I lost it a little and did some venting of my own. The following is posted on my Elect Gordon Fuller to Nanaimo Council facebook page.
When I went to the Concerned Citizens of Nanaimo Friday night I should probably have stuck with my original idea and just observed. Alas after listening to MLA Cantelon spout off, then Councilor Bestwick and a few other choice candidates in the election blatantly sucking up to the crowd for votes, the final straw came when prospective councilor Brian Fillmore came up and opened his mouth about the housing issue.
The meeting, I would guess three hundred in attendance, started with members of the CCN. One talked about how this wasn’t about pictures or spreading fear but about process. If that was the case why the photo shopped pictures, one of a family scene with a young girl in the background shooting up and obviously photo shopped into the scene? Why the rhetoric about crime and violence being brought to the area because of the housing when there is absolutely no proof of supportive housing doing so?

If this was simply about communication then I would have to agree with them; yes the process was not the best and sadly the same happens all the time and not just on the housing issue. I will talk more about communication at a later date because it is one of my pet peeves and a reason I am running for council.
Ron Cantelon got up and it was so obvious that he was vote pandering, at one point even asking how many people in the room lived in his riding. He mentioned how he had spoken with Rich Coleman and was assured that if the uplands location was put on hold the government would not withdraw the money. Yeah right, how many lies has this government told and should we trust them?
Councilor Bestwick got up and spouted on for at least 10 minutes. He has always been in opposition of the housing. About the only thing I can say I agreed with him on was when he mentioned too much of councils time was spent in camera; for those not in the know this means no public input and no need to release what the meeting was about or the decisions made there-in.
There were then a few other speakers, most talking about crime, drug addicts coming into their neighbourhoods as well as a couple council candidates. Their was also talk about research showing that smaller works better, abstinence based, and how pathways in New York place people in individual units and research showing smaller was better.
The reality is that while I do not disagree with this research there is also research that shows larger facilities work as well. There is one organization in Seattle where they have 9 low-barrier units housing 800 people and within a few months almost 100% are working with supports brought to the buildings.
If one were to actually look at Nanaimo's Response to Homelessness Action Plan page ES2 (more on pages 14 thru 20) they would see that in it is not just the 160 units of new builds for 5 locations but also creating 75 rent subsidies and 70 acquisitions of existing housing.
Personally I have always thought that the rent subsidies should have been implemented immediately in conjunction with the new build and housing acquisitions as outlined on page ES2. Rent subsidies would have allowed for almost immediate access to housing. Alas when the monies were put forward by the Province they were for new builds and have led to where we are at today.
Okay now we get to the losing it part. So, up until Brian Fillmore got up to speak, and after listening to rhetoric and vote pandering for at least 45 minutes, I was still just planning to listen. It was only during Fillmore’s spiel about drug addicts and how he had personally went to visit Warmlands Low-Barrier Housing in Duncan, found it not to his liking, and spoke with a business person and neighbour who allegedly told him that problems of crime and drug use in the area had gotten worse that I decided I had to get up and speak.
I found much of what he was saying to be so much bullshit that I was infuriated. Especially since we had previously heard from the school district about how well Warmlands, located next to two schools was working well and that Warmlands actually had a community garden where they were teaching school children about healthy eating. We had also heard from business and neighbours that since Warmlands had opened crime and drug use had actually decreased in the area.
As Fillmore was leaving the podium and walking by me I called him scum to his face. I have thought about this comment a lot since then and while I likely should not have said it, better I say it to his face then behind his back.
When I got to the mike the first words out of my mouth were, “I AM NOT HERE TO KISS YOUR ASS FOR VOTES.” I then said something to the effect that I stand by my views on Supportive Housing and am not ashamed to say so. One person in the front said well you are not getting my vote to which I replied if this is the only reason I am not getting your vote then I don’t want it.
I then went on to say that I agreed about the communication process but it goes deeper than just this one issue and I brought up the recent borrowing of 22 million for the Water Treatment Plant as an example, only one public meeting only about the borrowing.
I also went on to mention that when these public meetings were announced, and set up in the community, there was very little participation by the public. It is only when something was perceived to affect them directly that people got upset and banded together wanting the very input they could have actually given earlier on. The Homeless strategy is a perfect example in that when the community was invited to give input very few chose to do so.
I then talked briefly about the fact that the homeless strategy was more than the 160 units, also encompassing acquisitions and rent subsidies. At this point I was being nudged to stop speaking as my three minutes were up, though oddly enough others had been given more, and still pissed off as a wrap up stated that Brian Fillmore was a liar. I then promptly exited stage left, last thing I saw was Fillmore storming back up to the line for the mike looked like he wanted to hit me, with a few people thanking me as I left the building and a few thanking me outside as well.
The reality is that the only thing I specifically regret was accusing Fillmore of being a liar. I have to honestly say that I do not know this for a fact but then I also do not know that he actually went down to Warmlands in Duncan and talked to anyone.

Oct 21
Cantelon says city had other options for north end housing for homeless
Talk about intentionally inflaming the issue. He had told me on a number of occasions that he had been going out in the North End area with a few others speaking in support of the planned housing.
Our view: Cantelon has inflamed the housing issue
Extremely well written editorial, couldn’t agree more.
PS; I keep hearing about this 1400 strong petition. If getting people to sign it involved any of the blatant fear mongering tactics and false information put out by the Mythical CCN group then no wonder so many signed.

Oct 20 DN
Letter: Counter misinformation with factual information
It is unfortunate that when a few people spread fear and misinformation they gather many to their cause which makes giving accurate information even harder. Months ago I had mentioned to a couple of councillors and the social planner that they should be going out to the North End and speaking to people about the issues of Homelessness and Addiction; educate them about all the details of the Homeless Strategy. Had this happened the uproar in North End area would have been far less that it is now.

Oct 20
Social Housing debate continues
A sitting councillor or candidate would have to be nuts to attend this as it will very likely be a bitch fest extraordinaire. Hmm, perhaps I might just attend.

Oct 19
Letter: Residents campaign fails on several fronts
Letter: University women's group advocates inclusive community
A huge thanks to CFUW-Nanaimo for this letter.

Oct 18
Group continues fight against low-barrier housing project
Our View: Lies about low-barrier facility unhelpful

Oct 18
North End residents rally against low-barrier housing (Published as ‘Social housing opponents voice concerns)
I attended this council meeting and spoke in favour of the housing as well as thanking council for their ongoing support. Interesting to note that one of the delegations, the only person yet to admit to being part of the group Concerned Citizens of Nanaimo, refused to answer councils questions after her presentation. Amusing as one of their primary beefs has been a lack of communication and consultation.

If you check this link out Council Meeting October 17 2011 you may want to skip over the delegations prior to the ones regarding housing. I did not get to speak until after 10:00pm, 3 hours after the start of the meeting.

Letter: Are we a welcoming inclusive community
An excellent letter and something we need to work on.

Letter: Ad is a tasteless joke if sponsors are unknown
The ads can be viewed on this website

Letter: Many things wrong when looking at this picture
This letter speaks to the above

Oct 14
Citizens band together in effort to scuttle city's housing project
Oct 13
Opposition and support emerge on low barrier housing
Editorial: Resident takes leadership role
D/N Letters
Letter: Inflammatory pamphlet only spurs negativity
Letter: Lack of consultation for low-barrier housing
A very good quote at the end of this letter.

Oct 11
Letter: Residents must not exclude other people

Oct 8
Uplands land required lift on restrictions
This explains how the Uplands site came to be chosen. It is in essence a close to perfect site and in my opinion City Council could have done this in the open instead of in camera.

Letter: Dump low barrier idea for a workable solution

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