Homeless problem doesn’t need more Band-Aid solutions

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In your most recent issue, I read another article about the homeless problem in Chatham-Kent. I agree with the quote, “It’s all sort of a Band-Aid approach. We’ve got people in motels. We’re all running around trying to help them. Until we make some big changes, we will not see big results.”

Those words were never truer.

But in the same issue, I read an article about Indwell, a group working to build affordable housing for the homeless. Their project should be completed within the next five years.

In the next five years? In the meantime, money will be used to hire a program manager to oversee the project and to investigate details surrounding the homeless in Chatham-Kent.

You must be kidding! How much more analysis do you need to understand this problem exists? Just ask the volunteers, the food drive participants, soup kitchen providers, blanket distributors, sandwich makers, fundraising walkers, food bank drives, kind-hearted money donators and the many churches to know this problem exists. They have been working on this problem for many years.

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Last October I organized a fundraiser called Forget Me Not. What came to my attention was how many countless groups there are focused on this same problem.

I’ve been told there are as many as 168 homeless people in Chatham-Kent. So why has it not been resolved?

We are a well-established community. There are a good number of affluent people living here. We live in a very charitable community. But we are very splintered.

The problem is our complicated bureaucracy. Each group wants to do something worthwhile, but there are many rules and regulations and tedious bureaucratic paperwork. And there are some self-serving interests. The main problem is not resolved. But more efforts are launched. And the homeless remain homeless.

I challenge all groups to come together to hold a homeless forum, to be held as soon as the COVID-19 curtains are lifted. Let’s bring together all the expert minds, the groups, doctors and psychiatrists, sociologists and community wellness groups to address and attack this issue as a collective.

Am I simplifying things? Yes! But the issue remains. Do we as a community really want to eradicate this problem, or are the homeless just a platform for self-sustaining fund-its?

A collective homeless symposium or forum or conference, this year, could in theory develop solutions.

I challenge our municipal leaders to organize one, since money comes their way from the province and the federal government to do such things.

If we really wanted to solve this problem, we could.

Regina Stockus

Chatham

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