Letter to editor

Housing unit in Burns Lake is functioning as a shelter

Ediotr:

The recent death of a homeless individual in a unit at the former Burns Lake Motor Inn shocks many of the individual’s family and friends. Family members told me it was discovered that the individual had passed away four to five days after he had a heart attack in the bathroom of the unit.

My understanding is that because the unit in which this individual was living was classified as low-income housing, policies prevented employees of the facility from entering the unit.

And this is where a serious look at low cost housing versus a homeless shelter needs to take place.

Low cost housing is for individuals or families who cannot afford higher rent. A shelter is a place for people at risk of being homeless who have nowhere else to go so they can be protected from weather conditions.

Originally the former Burns Lake Motor Inn was to be a shelter. That plan changed and the facility is now to be low-cost housing.

But at the time of this incident, units designated as low-cost housing were occupied by homeless individuals or people at risk of being homeless.

If those units were actually occupied by homeless individuals or people at risk of being homeless, there should have been policies and trained staff in place with some assistance from the RCMP to monitor the rooms and to do wellness checks.

I would also suggest there are individuals in low-income housing who actually do have a home elsewhere. And I understand that every unit does not have a stove. As much as the facility may be classified as low-cost housing, it was functioning as a shelter.

To prevent such a tragedy from happening again, a committee of representatives from local bands and the village council should decide on applications for occupancy. And trained staff need to be in place for the facility to operate as a shelter until it meets the criteria to become low cost housing.

Jean Sam

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