As members of the Hope Ministerial Committee we are writing to express our support for the current Supportive Housing Proposal by BC Housing in co-operation with the Hope and Area Transition Society (HATS). We are aware that our community is divided on this matter and feel it is important that, as local church leaders, we make a clear statement that we fully endorse this project.
There have been many objections raised concerning the project, most projecting the idea that this supportive housing program will increase the homeless numbers in Hope, increase the amount of crime and related community issues, and increase the number of mental health issues that we face as a community. As individuals who work on the front lines of engagement in these areas, we believe it is important to note that all of those things are going to happen regardless of the status of the Supportive Housing Project. These issues have been growing in number and severity for many years, and as is the truth in society as a whole, they will continue to increase unless we take some action to begin to address them in a holistic manner.
The Supportive Housing Proposal works from a “Housing First” approach, which has been proven to be a more effective way to help address these issues than only providing housing and support only to those who have already begun to show change. For those who want to understand this better, we would encourage you to research “Housing First Approach” on Google. The strategy is to provide housing as the first step in a process of supportive measures designed to help people caught in addiction or suffering from mental illness transition into a healthier relationship with society.
Perhaps the deeper question that we, as church leaders, feel needs to be addressed is this: “What kind of people are we?” As we live and work and contribute our lives to this beautiful community of Hope, a place we all love, what kind of people will we be? Will the future look back at this time and define the residents of Hope as people who chose their own comfort and fears over choosing to help people who need it? Or will they see that we were able to make decisions which brought healing to our community in tangible ways?
As we reflect on these questions we say unanimously that we want Hope to be a community of people who choose not to hoard the good we have here, but who choose to serve those who need it most. We fully believe that change for our entire country could begin in a town called “Hope.” It is our desire that as you look inside yourself you will come to agree that something has to be done, and that this Supportive Housing Proposal, while a challenging initiative, is the right thing to do.
Jeff Kuhn, Pastor, Grace Baptist Church, on behalf of the Hope Ministerial Committee.
(Pastor Bruce McDonald and Pastor Sue Martin, Northwest Harvest Church; Reverend Patrick Hoppus, Hope Pentecostal Assembly; Reverend Dianne Astle and Jill Last, Hope United Church; Reverend Tim Morgan, Christ Church Anglican; Linda VanderMeulen, Hope Lutheran Church; Father Gordon Cook, Our Lady of Good Hope Catholic Church.)