It appears the dust has settled since The Junction supportive housing complex opened in Courtenay in the spring of 2019.
The project was initially met with a great deal of opposition, largely from residents at the Kiwanis Village for seniors, kitty corner to the building at 988 8th St. Opponents said the location was a poor choice, considering an emergency homeless shelter and a recovery centre are located less than a block away. After it opened, they complained about increased noise, loitering, littering and drug dealing.
In time, Junction staff moved the bike lock and smoking area to the rear of the 46-unit building, which seems to have alleviated some of the problems associated with people gathering out front.
Judging by a recent visit to The Junction, the neighbourhood is just another quiet section of the Comox Valley, at least in the afternoon. Evenings are no doubt a little different, considering the railroad tracks and amount of brush next to the facility. Dark spots can attract dark dealings. But what neighbourhood is ideal? A rural location was out of the question, because Junction tenants need to be close to medical care and other services.
God knows where these individuals previously lived. Some would have been on the street, maybe in a tent, maybe using cardboard for a bed. There’s various reasons a person winds up homeless. Bad luck. Bad choices. Mental illness. Regardless, everyone deserves a roof over their head, and something to eat — basics that fulfil the lowest rung on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The Junction takes it a step or two further, thanks to staff members who work ’round the clock to keep the premises clean, provide support, and even a bit of fun.
With physiological and safety needs met, Junction tenants can experience the third rung of Maslow’s pyramid — psychological needs: belonging, love, friendships — and even the fourth (esteem needs) and fifth (self-actualization).
A provincial poverty reduction strategy aims to reduce B.C.’s overall poverty rate by 25 per cent, and the child poverty rate by 50 per cent, by 2024. Government intends to do so by increasing the minimum wage, and income and disability assistance rates, and by removing policies to make it easier to access assistance, supports and services.
But it also needs to house people.
Like every other community in B.C., the Comox Valley needs another Junction, where vacant rooms tend to fill up quickly.
Along with food and shelter, The Junction offers support groups, and creative ventures such as book clubs and writing clubs. Once a tenant gets ‘back on their feet,’ he or she can move on to their own housing situation, and possibly return to school or re-enter the workforce. But out on the street, a person doesn’t stand a chance.