Comox Valley Echo
By: Drew A. Penner
Original article at:

There are some simple solutions to making progress on tackling homelessness in the community and it’s time to get down to business, according to a group representing local nurses.
Helen Boyd, with the Comox Valley chapter of the Association of Registered Nurses of BC, told the Comox Valley Regional District board Jan. 27 homeless people need local municipalities to fund housing spaces with on-site social service support services.
“What I mean by supportive housing is different than affordable housing or transitional housing,” she said. “At the present we have zero units for adults who need supportive housing.”
During the fall election community members from across the Comox Valley voted overwhelmingly to chip in up to $10 annually in tax (for property assessed at $300,000) in order to try to reduce homelessness within the community.
The CVRD should help fund two positions at the Braidwood Supportive Housing Project Courtenay has been considering, the nurses group believes.
Boyd said women who lack a secure place to live – some of whom couch surf from place to place – are vulnerable.
“The situations are sometimes precarious, even dangerous,” she said. “They’re at risk.”
After participating in five homelessness studies in eight years Boyd now wants to see action.
“What are you going to do with the money collected?” she said, conveying a concern in the community. “We’ve studied this to death.”
Co-presenter Shanyn Simcoe said it’s important to take a big step towards helping the most vulnerable residents in the Valley right away.
“Homelessness is a health issue,” she said. “Reducing homelessness is a shared responsibility.”
While it costs an estimated $55,000 a year to deal with each homeless person, that figure drops to just $27,000 a year when the person has a place to call their own, she pointed out, adding it’s up to all levels of government – in tandem with the social services sector – to fight the scourge of poverty.
She pointed to the results of the election referendum as a powerful reason to take action now.
“These are very encouraging results and not altogether surprising,” she said. “So now what?”
Director David Frisch asked if there are any plans to actually implement the homelessness tax. Staff replied that it’s in progress behind the scenes.
Noting “I know we’ve been kicking this tin can around the block quite a few times in the last few years,” director Edwin Grieve wondered how much a new tax could generate.
“I don’t want to raise expectations,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a huge amount.” – See more at: