OPINION: Too visible?

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It seems several members of council at least and a number of residents on or near Croydon Street in Chatham would prefer our homeless were nothing more than a dirty little secret.

They sure as heck don’t seem to want to establish a supportive housing effort at the former St. Agnes School on Croydon.

We don’t want them living under the Third Street Bridge. We don’t want them in a short-term homeless shelter on Murray Street. And, apparently, we don’t want them living in housing where they’d get many of the supports they so desperately need.

Where do we want them? In a copse of trees out of sight?

It’s unfair to seek to visually discard Chatham-Kent’s homeless citizens. Out of sight, out of mind is not the way to handle the situation.

The pandemic has only added to our homeless numbers. High inflation in the wake of the pandemic has not helped either.

R.O.C.K. Missions volunteers checking in on the displaced members of our society and the various soup kitchens held by local churches are incredible supports, but they are just that – supports.

They are treatments of the surface wound, not of the underlying cause. Indwell offers such treatments as providing them with easy access to services so they can learn new skills and make better life choices.

Also, how is it that some councillors who voted to commit funding for a 95-unit project on March 6 seemed surprised at the size of the Indwell plan two months later? It was well known in March that the project could contain 95 units. Councillors attended that meeting and surely they read the report before voting, right?

For them to say they were surprised at the size of the project means that either they did not read the report or pay attention in the meeting, or that they were merely politicking for the cameras on May 15.

Some residents may fear there will be issues with their future neighbours. But if we don’t provide supports for our most vulnerable citizens, how will they ever be able to break out of the lowest points in their respective lives? With Indwell’s effort, some of these people will be able to recover from their addiction or mental health issues and become contributing members of society once again.

And that could mean they’ll be future tax-paying citizens who are less judgmental than their neighbours.

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