After attending last Thursday night’s forum on homelessness at Hope’s conference centre, my faith in community and good will towards those less fortunate in our society has been restored.
Hope and Area Transition Society (HATS) has proven to our community, and has modelled for our region, what can take place, when groups and agencies with similar goals and challenges, coalesce and work together.
It’s unfortunate, that because HATS in the past, has been misunderstood, and that a portion of the local population has been alarmed over security, property values, and the threat of ever increasing taxes, has cast a shadow over the project. Now, that it has come to light, through a very well communicated forum, that all the various agencies, such as police, both physical and mental health, First Nations, as well as funding through provincial and federal authorities has made the Thunderbird project, of Housing First, a very doable and worthwhile project. Not only does this project provide a very needed service to those in our society who are down on their luck, and have managed to put themselves in a position that most of us would consider a nightmare. It has also, in conjunction with the town of Hope, and with the financial backing of the federal and provincial governments, become a template for every other community in the province, when dealing with homelessness. Unfortunately, because of the many prior misinterpretations and misunderstandings, many members of HATS have been slurred and deserve our apologies.
Though by no means is this system perfect and for sure their learning curve is almost perpendicular, HATS has started on a path that will, and should be revered throughout the province. With no, or at worse, very limited financial liability to the local ratepayer’s, this project could very well turn into an economic stimulus for the eastern Fraser Valley, and serve as an example for a very needed service for the local area, the province, and Canada as a whole. We should all get on board, and support this project and its group of very dedicated people, and showcase this very pragmatic approach in dealing with homelessness as a worthwhile and viable solution.