The Nanaimo News Now recently published an article titled "Prolific offender returns to supportive housing following Nanaimo crime wave" (read the article here). Although the title is unfortunate, the article touches on the critical topic of what happens when individuals are released from the corrections system. The article also references a Pacifica Housing supportive site resident. Although we typically would not comment on such matters, this provides an important opportunity to share more context.
I learned of the article through frontline staff, who expressed concern about how some in the community interpreted the article's information, while also highlighting safety concerns for themselves, the identified resident and our supportive housing site. Unfortunately, our staff are all too familiar with threats from certain corners in our communities who are opposed - or perhaps misunderstand and fear - the role of supportive housing.
This story should be a cause for optimism in the community. Far too often, those exiting the corrections system are released into homelessness, with their most basic needs such as food and shelter going unmet, further sentencing them to a prolonged - and sometimes lifelong - challenging cycle of homelessness, poverty, health issues and legal trouble. Providing a supportive home is a lifeline to those making this transition.
It is not our place as supportive housing operators to judge our resident's prior actions - that is up to the court system. The role of supportive housing is to ensure these individual's needs are met and they can access whatever available community supports they require to help them move forward. Not everyone thrives in supportive housing. We know there are people for whom supports as they exist now are insufficient, and that is why the Province is exploring and funding new approaches.
Pacifica Housing is one of Vancouver Island's largest affordable housing and supportive services operators. We aim to improve our community through innovative, solution-focused housing and support services for people from all walks of life. Leadership in supportive housing means empowering those we serve by providing meaningful connections to resources and removing barriers to entry. Through our independent living units, we provide homes to people who would otherwise struggle to pay market rent. While these units are key community assets that prevent the cycle of homelessness before it begins, supportive housing units serve individuals who struggle to live independently and have had a history of chronic homelessness.
If our shared goal as a society is to eliminate and not just manage homelessness, then we need to challenge our assumptions and encourage those in the community who are taking positive steps toward independence, personal accountability and better outcomes. There remains a lot more work to be done in this area, but Pacifica Housing is committed to doing our part to provide equitable housing in pursuit of thriving communities so that hopefully, one day soon, homelessness will cease to exist.
If you would like to learn more about this subject, we suggest listening to "A Compassionate Inquiry with Gabor Mate", found here: https://compassionprisonproject.org/a-compassionate-inquiry-with-gabor-mate/<< Back to News
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