The purpose for this letter is to assist to set forth a plan and program concerning the homeless situation in the city and region.
Firstly, I would like to introduce myself, Suzzanne Chappell, a 25 year constituent of the Slocan Valley and Nelson. I am a registered Metis and mother of five. I know some of the individuals in the homeless predicament and have been there myself on occasion when low cost housing has been hard to find. I am just lucky I have family and friends here, but for those who don’t facing a crisis like this with winter coming can be not only disheartening but downright depressing.
The idea to spend $5,000 on a study is simply absurd. We know what the problem is and spending that money on anything other than a real solution is wasteful and ludicrous. The situation is obvious to any thinking person …there is simply not enough low cost housing here, and something must be done about it now!
Being practical and frugal here I have a solution that may just work. Spend the money actually building a camp. Somewhere not too far from town, but within bus range and the area must have water nearby, and we are talking about a half acre space that can be rented or donated.
People involved and charitable folk can sign up to be part of the work party to assist in the building of straw bale units (perhaps six at a cost of around $500 each in materials), an outhouse, and tarped over kitchen using propane burners/wood stove and a clay oven can be built for when no power is available. Tents would have to also be allowed.
The system works on “contributism.” Each person who stays there longer than a week must:
- Sign up for work detail for 12 hours a month doing volunteer services to assist the camp and companies that would be open to helping out the camp- by fair exchange;
- Those who are working/ on welfare can contribute $50 per paycheque to the camp costs;
- Those who are not can do two hours a day of helping out in exchange for their room and board.
This way these people have an opportunity to feel like they are a helpful part of society, to give something back in a beneficial manner. It does wonders for the self esteem. There are several societies and non-profit organizations/local growers and interested groups who can and would help out with this project if asked.
A coordinator must be engaged who knows the organizations and is familiar with the people involved and has trust with them. This person would have to do intake and report on who is at the camp and coordinate work detail and liaison with local authorities to help maintain order and good conduct. I wish to be a part of it and am willing to put the effort into making it a reality.
I am asking you to do something good, something amazing, something everybody wants to see and would honestly be a landmark of good intentions creating something workable and a precedent setting format for other cities facing the same problem.
I ask you to give this opportunity to real people who matter and if given a chance can be contributing members of our society.