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Letter: 'Reckless' flyer gets New West supportive housing proposal all wrong

"Hate mongering" isn't an acceptable answer to a supportive housing proposal.
Purpose Society wants to convert two floors of this building at 422 Sixth St. from office space to supported transitional housing.


The Purpose Society is attempting to convert the building at 422 Sixth St. from office space to supported transitional housing

Recently, several people put together a flyer that is reckless, slanderous and hate mongering. The flyer, among other things, incorrectly described the future conversion as a low-barrier nightly shelter. The proposed project is not a shelter. 

For a very long time, the Purpose Society has worked with people who abuse substances, are mentally ill and/or homeless. We have seen people who have decided they no longer want to use drugs go into treatment and begin their recovery; however, when they return to the community, there is no place for them to live, and the cycle of drug addiction begins again for them. 

There are people who have received medical or other treatment for their mental illness, and their next steps are to redirect and move forward with their lives, but they have no place to live that provides the supports they need. 

This new housing will house folks who are willing to be involved in an employment, educational or occupational therapy program during the day.  Residents must also be willing to contribute to the well-being of the other residents and care for the space.

If anyone wants to hear more about this project, they can call Purpose, and I will be more than happy to describe the project in more detail. The Purpose telephone number is 604-526-2522.

What is even more concerning about this flyer than the blatant errors in describing the project is the hateful approach that is taken against the project.  Publicly slandering any organization or the people who staff it is unacceptable.  Hateful remarks and the villainization of the folks who are homeless is divisive and, in my opinion, does not represent the opinions of most of the good people of New Westminster. 

Before, during and following the pandemic, I have seen the city staff, the BIA, the business community, many other organizations and the residents eager to help one another, including the folks who are homeless. This flyer depends on hate and polarization to block what is a much-needed housing project.  Creating dislike/hate, division, slander and denigrating a group of people is not the direction that we, as a community, should be going.

It is a fact that, in most communities, homelessness is a major concern.  If you can find affordable housing, or even a shelter bed, these days you can count yourself lucky.  Substance use and mental illness are health issues that require immediate access to health services.  There are consequences when people are homeless, using substances or mentally ill and have no place to go, but to villainize people is not seeing what happens to people when they lose all hope.

In any project or plan, there is room for rational debate, a variety of opinions, more understanding and working toward consensus in a way that is positive and builds community.  However, people need to have an open mind until they have all of the information, details and fully understand what is being proposed. 

Either the City of New Westminster staff or I can provide the correct information on what will happen on the Sixth Street site.  I also hope that we can walk away from and turn our backs on hate.

Lynda Fletcher-Gordon, Purpose Society

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