You may reasonably ask why an Abbotsford resident would presume to weigh in on concerns specific to Hope. There are two reasons for that – I enjoy visiting Hope, and Abbotsford is facing very similar problems when it comes to homelessness.
So I was pleased to be invited to join local residents for the January 16th meeting on the “low-barrier” housing at the Thunderbird Motel.
At the meeting I learned that citizens in the area are none too pleased with how the Thunderbird is currently managed. I heard of school children subjected to people urinating in full sight, increased property crime (the RCMP officer in attendance admitted crime has increased since the Thunderbird has been operating as social housing), and concerns for the safety of both Thunderbird residents and drivers along Flood-Hope Road.
When I heard that HATS is translated to Hope and Area Transition Society, I thought that the word “transition” may be a bit of a misnomer. How is it that social housing is allowed to make life more difficult for local taxpayers? After all, these are the same folk who are paying to have this housing provided.
When the evening’s facilitator told the audience that the local mental health services are maxed out, I realized that is a large part of the answer.
Providing housing is a good idea only if attendant services are also provided. Our provincial government is dropping the ball, and local citizens – as well as those housed at the Thunderbird – deserve better.