Community : Statement in response to the fire on Wesley Street December 3, 2020
Yesterday’s fire at the cluster of tents on Wesley Street and subsequent displacement of individuals sheltering at the location highlights the extreme need for housing and long term solutions for people experiencing homelessness in Nanaimo.
Now more then ever, we need to work together with all levels of government to find long term solutions. For years, Nanaimo Homeless Coalition has been calling for adequate investment in housing so that people aren’t homeless. Through this year’s Point-in-Time count we know there are at least 433 people absolutely homeless – but it’s likely closer to 600. Furthermore, an estimated 6000 people are living on the edge of homelessness in Nanaimo. This fire is one example of how dangerous it is when someone is forced to live on the street.
The Nanaimo Homeless Coalition members and other local service providers are working hard to help those displaced in whatever means they can with the resources available. The community, unfortunately, does not yet have enough housing, shelter spaces and warming spaces for our community members who are struggling with homelessness.
Direct service providers and the Coalition are looking to meet with the City and others as soon as possible for a full de-brief on developments this week and what the plan is for those who were impacted by the fire.
The City of Nanaimo’s Health and Housing Task Force, which includes members of the Nanaimo Homeless Coalition, is set to give its recommendations to the City in the next few weeks. This will be a crucial opportunity for governments to step up and actively support solutions and be proactive for the ever-growing need.
Yvonne Borrows, Nanaimo Homeless Coalition co-chair
Jason Harrison, Nanaimo Homeless Coalition co-chair