Taxes, roads, growth, taxes, even crime – they’re all far down the ballot for me.
This year, only one issue is getting my vote, and that’s how to end the crisis in homelessness and end the failure to face it that has infected our local governments.
I grew up in Langley. When I was young, the population of the Langleys was about half what it is now.
There were homeless people, though they were all but invisible. From talking to folks who remember those days, the rough number seems to have been between five and 10.
The number of homeless has not doubled with the population. We do not have 10 or 20 people living on our streets and in temporary shelter. We have more than 200, and the numbers are growing with every count.
The reasons are well known – old, marginal housing is being torn down everywhere, and replacements are few and far between.
But our local leaders have, for the most part, moved far too slowly to take action on their own, and to demand action from the provincial and federal governments.
The fact that we now have a number of modular housing projects across the region – but not yet in Langley – is only due to a change in the government in Victoria.
But we need more. We need the Quality Inn supportive housing project here in the Langleys. We need further projects to follow – expansions and rebuilding at the Langley Lions Seniors Housing buildings, new low-cost rental buildings, mixed-income developments.
We need mayors and councils who will push those items to the front of the agenda and keep them there.
It’s easy to ignore the homeless. Most people never speak to them. If it were not part of my job, I probably wouldn’t.
But I have, and so I know that they are people. Sometimes difficult, troubled people, but human beings, and no less deserving of a warm place to sleep, shelter from the weather, and somewhere to keep their belongings.
If we fail at this task, we fail again to live up to the most basic ideals of a community.
• Read Bob Groeneveld’s Odd Thoughts column at langleyadvance.com