To the Editor:
There is word around Trail that there is going to be another homeless shelter in the downtown core.
This shelter will apparently be run on a permanent, year-round basis only after the available building is rezoned by city council, if need be.
I appreciate that city hall heard some of the citizens’ previously expressed concerns and are taking measures to address them, first with extra police patrols and now with more homeless beds.
I do, however, have some concerns regarding the future shelter.
• Have the taxpaying citizens of this town been informed of this plan and/or been allowed to provide input?
An additional, larger shelter will have an impact on the downtown core as well as the surrounding areas. The people being impacted should be allowed some sort of involvement-the bare minimum is being informed about the where, when, and how. As well, they should have some involvement in the decision making and planning process itself.
• The location of the future shelter is important because of the aforementioned impact-environmental as well as social.
The current, smaller shelter has left a footprint of increased trash and used needles, blatant criminality, and fear. What will a larger shelter leave behind? It has been suggested that the new shelter should be more distant from the downtown core as well as closer to rescue and first aid providers.
• Provision of soup and a warm bed is an excellent short-term, emergency measure for the homeless.
But it fails to solve the problem. The homeless have a multitude of complex issues. Their lifestyle results in a variety of health, mental health, addiction, employment, legal, and social difficulties. In order to be a long-term success, this planned shelter needs to provide assistance in all these areas.
It needs to be staffed 24/7 and to have access to professionals who can provide the assistance needed.
In my opinion, when planning this shelter, the choice is between feeding and housing this group for the rest of their lives, or helping them back into society in the next year or so.