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A simplistic yet realistic solution gets the city's destitute off the streets.
During a recent morning on Bowen Island, I was totally taken with this effort made by students of Emily Carr and UBC—small, portable “bedrooms” that could be moved to any available space for our homeless citizens.
Bravo! It’s good to see young people thinking about important issues. The concept calls for the 64-square-foot shelters to be clustered around a communal washroom and kitchen facility.
Currently, these “rooms” are being displayed in Snug Cove by the Bowen Community Housing Association in hopes that they may kick start more conversation on housing for the needy. But having spent the rest of my day in Vancouver stepping around several down-on-their-luck souls squatting on street corners under plastic tarping in a torrential rain shower, I say, what are we waiting for?
Yes, let’s discuss ideal long-range solutions, but in the meantime here is a simple and affordable solution that would provide a glimmer of dignity and security to someone otherwise forced to sleep on the sidewalk.
All it takes is reading this excerpt of an online sample chapter of A Room Somewhere: 101 Solutions to Homelessness by Judy Graves to applaud the student’s simplistic, yes, but realistic solution for some of our homeless:
“When people are homeless, they rarely sleep more than three hours at a stretch. The pavement, even in the summer, is very cold at night, and pulls the warmth out of people’s bodies. There are constant waking disturbances. Police and security staff rouse and insist you get up at frequent intervals. Well fed dogs on leashes come to sniff. Another homeless person goes through your pockets, hoping you have a little change, or may steal the blanket off your sleeping body, needing the warmth themselves. Middle class drunks may come out of bars and kick you for fun, or set your sleeping bag on fire. Your arthritis aches on the hard ground, your back goes into a spasm. And it is hard to stay asleep when you are hungry.”
Each shelter has its own tiny patio, perfect for a pot of a few herbs for a hot cup of tea. And while we’re at it, why not position each group of shelters around a garden space, where a year-round crop of easy edibles could help to sustain those who need it most?
Read more about this wonderful project.