Homelessness in the federal riding of Courtenay-Alberni has reached crisis proportions, says NDP MP Gord Johns.
“In my riding of Courtenay-Alberni, access to affordable housing has become an urgent and desperate matter,” he said in the House of Commons last week. “The situation is critical: people are living on unsafe derelict boats, in the bush, and on the streets.
“In Port Alberni, a city of 17,000 people, more than half the residents can barely afford their rent, while the homeless shelter had to turn away more than 1,000 people last year because they simply don’t have the room,” noted Johns.
Wes Hewitt, Port Alberni Shelter Society executive director, is happy to hear a politician stand up in government and call attention to the issue.
“We’ve got to be happy we have somebody politically that is willing to bring this out to the forefront,” Hewitt said Tuesday afternoon.
“We haven’t had, nationally, a housing plan and this is what has to happen.
“We’re not unique here. We have a greater need than some other communities,” he said.
Hewitt said Port Alberni counted 1,402 turn-aways last year—that means 1,402 times they had to tell someone there was no room for them at the 12-bed emergency shelter.
Johns named the shelter society, the Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness, Dawn to Dawn and the Oceanside Task Force on Homelessness as local organizations dedicated to eradicating homelessness.
“These organizations need urgent resources from Ottawa to help lift people out of homelessness and restore the dignity and compassion they deserve,” he said.