Pubdate: Fri, 31 Aug 2007
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2007 Times Colonist
Author: Liz Stonard


How many of us -- due to our own ignorance and prejudices -- can't 
get past the word "homeless" without applying descriptions like 
mentally ill, drug addicted or n'er-do-well? The fact they are people 
is an afterthought.

If we are so fearful of their medical issues such as mental illness 
or drug addiction, why aren't there immediately accessible treatment 
facilities available? Many of the apparent "n'er-do-wells" have 
health issues resulting in criminal behaviour, so why aren't the 
justice and health-care systems working in tandem with solutions such 
as "drug courts" where offenders are offered the choice between 
treatment or jail time?

Rather than criticizing and banishing the afflicted from 
neighbourhood to neighbourhood, why don't we hold elected officials 
accountable for providing the means required for these peoples' 
recovery and rehabilitation?

We are talking about somebody's mother, father, brother, sister, 
husband, wife or friend -- all people before they became homeless. 
And there, but for the grace of God, go the rest of us.

Liz Stonard,

Port Alberni.
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