The following letter to  Abbotsford’s city managers was prompted when I read that logo development for the Homeless Action Advisory Committee website would be on the agenda of the January 22nd meeting.  
Abbotsford does not need to create another level of bureaucracy — our city simply needs to encourage senior levels of government to provide adequate affordable housing.     


Hello Jake & George:

I was glad to hear that the logo costs would be donated “in kind” — since the feds are presently contributing very little to housing, a tax write-off is the least they can do.

And although I realize the designer was speaking hypothetically, I hope you are aware that it would be way over the top to have ball caps or t-shirts displaying any logo the committee does choose.
Please share this email with mayor and councillors, but I’d appreciate their not wasting time on a reply — their time is better spent effecting change.

One of the concerns I took home from today’s meeting is that much of what is discussed appears to be of benefit to “service providers” rather than to those who need the services.  This seems a tad counter-productive to me.  

Service providers are given much time to share their needs and requirements, but I do not hear what the clients either need or want.  Are they even part of the discussion?  Is there any record as to the type of housing by which they would be best served?   the kind of housing where they might stay for longer than a few months.  Are they asked whether or not their current reqiuirements (in excess of housing) are being met? — and what is being missed?

It was reported to the committee this afternoon that a number of previously homeless individuals have now been housed.  Is the type of housing reported as well?  Are individuals being “housed” in single rooms in basements?  Or in better conditions?  And what kind of follow-up is being provided?

When the web-site is up and running, will it be of some advantage to our current homeless population?  Or is it simply for those providing services?  If the latter, I wonder how far we are from the experience of Vancouver, where a million a day is pumped into the DTES, while the need for adequate housing in that city continues to increase.
I know that on Christmas Eve the new shelter was full, as was the Sally Ann.  I also know that an outreach worker tried — unsuccessfully — to find a space for a woman who had no other place to go than back to the protest camp.  I don’t know whether she was the same woman who deliberately walked into traffic on the freeway, but would not be surprised if she were.

I may be repeating myself here, but it is well past time to put some real pressure on our provincial government.  We need to convey some sense of urgency.  B.C. Housing obviously feels no sense of urgency — at least going by the ongoing delays re: the Gladys Avenue residence, a costly building that will start by housing only five individuals.

There must be other options — options that can be effected much more quickly.  Container housing that could be used on a more permanent basis than those at the Riverside site (as I understand happened in Chilliwack); or re-purposed vacant school buildings; or apartment buildings that could be purchased with provincial dollars.

Why is Fraser Health — a taxpayer-funded entity — allowed to have acres of land sit vacant for years? land that is so close to the city core?  Are there no by-laws that would encourage immediate use of that land?  There was a time when the Y was going to be located there.  That space should now be open for other options. 
It is now ten years since the first incarnation of Compassion Park.  During that decade there has been no dent whatsoever in street homelessness.  Conditions are becoming worse, rather than better, for more and more individuals.

I used to attend the ASCAC meetings.  I attended the meetings of the committee that preceded the present committee.  

Will there just be more and more committees, and more and more meetings, and no real change?

— Regina Dalton