Wednesday, March 25, 2020

City and Province need to outline what measures they have in mind to assist Prince Rupert's homeless during this pandemic period

While most of Prince Rupert is told
to shelter in place, the streets of 
Prince Rupert make for the only home
for much of the city's homeless
Certainly not out of sight, Prince Rupert's homeless can be found gathered in alleyways, under covered parking areas and around other locations mostly in the downtown core, a growing collective that often seems overlooked by public officials.

And when it comes for public comments as to how they will be assisted during these times of concern of COVID-19; the situation facing Prince Rupert's homeless has not as of yet made for any kind of action plan for the City of Prince Rupert, nor has MLA Jennifer Rice outlined how any provincial measures will be put into action in the region.

That despite volumes of Facebook messages from the Mayor and a range of updates from  MLA Rice over the last few weeks.

In addition to the social media messaging and information from the civic website updates and other message platforms, to this point the topic of how anyone will lend help to the homeless has yet to be addressed in any tangible fashion.

Ms. Rice has provided for some good information notes on what the Provincial government has announced, though to this point, there has been no indication as to how those measures will be implemented on the North Coast.

However, the homeless for the most part, have not factored into any of the official public messages delivered by the City of Prince Rupert.

The homeless situation in the city, already a crisis to itself,  has now only been exacerbated by an era that is calling for social distancing, self isolation and the need to shelter in place,  some of which are options that a good number of the homeless don't have and can't act on.

Even the one homeless shelter that is in place on Third Avenue West, must be making for a particular challenge for the North Coast Transition Society  officials who operate it.

With the province having introduced social distancing requirements, those measures now must be something that can't possibly be addressed in the small space that currently houses towards up to 20 guests a night.

Beyond the use of that facility, a number of the homeless make use of outdoor spaces scattered around the city, sometimes grouping together, other times tucked away in nooks and cranny's around town.

Their options for hand washing and washroom facilities and such limited at the best of times, now almost impossible as the city closes parks and local facilities such as the pool and civic centre and outdoor washrooms remain locked. 

Along with those civic closures, any small businesses that once may have kindly offered some help to those in need have now closed,unless deemed essential.

Both the City and Province need to provide some guidance for the community and the homeless and take action quickly to ensure that those that often are forgotten,  will get some much needed attention as soon as possible.

Whether that may be repurposing Civic or school district properties as temporary shelters, or creation of mobile home type shelter facilities somewhere in the city, the need it would seem is urgent as a clock continues to tick.

Transition House has made note of some of the measures that they now have in place at their shelter and supportive housing facilities, you can review those notes here.

For a more notes on the range of actions and statements already in place as the COVID-19 situation has evolved see our archives below:

BC Government response to COVID-19

North Coast Advisories and Information on the COVID-19 response

See our Housing archive for more notes on housing in the Northwest.

Past notes on City Council themes can be found from our Council Discussion archive page.

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