A response to The Province news article on a Squamish resident being moved to a homeless shelter in the Vancouver area

In response to a Province Newspaper story regarding a Squamish resident being moved to a homeless shelter in the Vancouver area, Executive Director Maureen Mackell has this to say...

"Although difficult to respond to The Province’s recent article with specifics, due to confidentiality restraints as well as not having all the facts, Helping Hands would like to offer this statement in hopes that we can shed some light on the issues raised here:"  

Squamish Helping Hands works diligently to develop supports and resources for our folks in need. This article from the Province stands to highlight the challenges we are facing in this sector, particularly in small communities, with regard to accessible resources to support a wide range of client needs. This further illuminates a lack of client specific affordable & supportive housing options in our community. Helping Hands is working really hard to change this. 

We know we need more supportive housing which can meet the specific needs of our participants. We believe in the Housing First model which should lead to a decreased need for emergency beds. The other issue that this article raises is around available emergency beds – at least in our part of the province, if not province wide. The fact that there were no beds available between Squamish and Abbotsford speaks to the growing issue of homelessness which we are all doing our best to understand and tackle. 

Every shelter out there along with BC Housing and the associated Districts are having to grapple with this issue and find solutions that will change things at a foundational level. We are always looking at new ways to meet the incredible, often expanding need. It is a good thing in the short run that this person was able to have a bed for the evening – albeit not ideal having to travel so far – but commendable still that someone could be dispatched to escort her there. This is worth taking into account. 

Finally, for Helping Hands, and for our community of Squamish this story and the situation itself serves to remind us that those who are suffering live among us. Let this encourage and inspire us to raise the bar and make sure we are doing everything we can to be better, do better in meeting the needs of our citizens. Homelessness is a community issue. We need to continue to fight for the rights of those who need us and we need to do this through a concerted effort, through collaboration and partnership. Throw out all the yours, mine and ours. Throw out our tendency to blame. Bring this issue to the fore and let’s together find real solutions.