“Occupy the Shelter” protesters have set up a covered area, propane heaters and some tents in front of Our Home on Eighth, Port Alberni’s multi-service shelter, to protest the way homelessness is being dealt with. Oct. 25, 2020 (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

EDITORIAL: Housing report a chance for change in Port Alberni

The report on the Port Alberni Shelter Society has given the Alberni Valley a golden opportunity…

The BC Housing report on the Port Alberni Shelter Society has given the Alberni Valley a golden opportunity to address the broader picture of homelessness in the region.

The report came as a response to an uprising last fall over practices in one particular shelter, but its recommendations could be construed as a blueprint for change.

The BC Housing report calls for a more client-focused approach to those who are without housing. This does not mean coddling people: it means recognizing that someone who is in addiction and unable to house themselves is likely dealing with trauma, and their needs are different.

The report acknowledges that better practices are needed for welcoming Indigenous people to use housing services, and that stronger relationships with First Nations organizations are needed.

It is too easy for clients to get lost in the red tape, especially when they don’t have the means to speak up for themselves. People who are under-housed are also vulnerable. This is compounded in the Indigenous community, which has seen a larger-than-average percentage of people accessing shelter services.

This is by no means a condemnation of either BC Housing or PASS. The report points out a gap in service in the Alberni Valley as a whole, and should be a starting point for improvement.

The report represents opportunity: a picture into what is desperately needed in Port Alberni, from more trained personnel to a wider range of housing options.

If anything, this report points out that BC Housing needs more oversight of the sites under its care.

We agree that a community advisory committee is needed in Port Alberni to monitor service provision to people who are under-housed. Having a committee based in the Alberni Valley would offer a broader picture of all services offered, with an informed view of what is needed—and how to accomplish solutions.

— Alberni Valley News

Alberni Valley News