Poverty affects not just the individuals experiencing poverty, but also the community as a whole. There are success stories in the fight against poverty and I believe the Township of Langley needs to take action. We are fortunate to have many stakeholders in our community, doing their best to address the needs of a growing community without housing and necessary supports. As a candidate seeking election to Township of Langley council, if elected I will support and work to end poverty in our community.
Solutions to address poverty and homelessness in the Township of Langley:
- Adopt a Housing First philosophy when addressing homelessness in our community. This model has been proven to be successful and challenges the status quo, which includes the notion that individuals need to "pull themselves up by the bootstraps" and prove their readiness for housing. Housing First is about meeting participants "where they are at" and has been key to it's success.
- We need to create a Community Poverty Reduction Committee that is a collaboration between Township of Langley, non profit stakeholders, with supports from senior levels of government where possible. This committee also needs to include those with lived experience and community engagement, in order to truly meet the needs of the community.
- There is a need to increase supply of affordable housing spaces and this can be achieved through a variety of methods. Offering incentives to developers to include affordable units in future projects or to build supportive housing buildings, with assistance from Township in acquiring land or assistance with servicing. We need a greater supply of truly affordable rental options for those struggling to find housing. One of the greatest ways to combat homelessness, is to prevent it.
- Support the creation of Supportive housing developments, which work to provide a holistic approach to this issue. Let's find land that is not well suited to traditional housing development and explore using it to create a supportive housing community. Partnering with non-profit stakeholders and seeking support from senior govt. initiatives to create a "back on track" community that involves not only housing, but supports to help individuals experiencing homelessness to get back on their feet.
- We need to encourage "outside of the box" thinking in an effort to reduce poverty in our community. Perhaps we could explore matching homeless youth with seniors struggling to remain independent in their own homes. This would meet the needs of both individuals.
- Make it a priority to address the lack of affordable childcare and after-school care spaces in the Township. Let's think outside the box and partner with non-profit organizations to utilize the current government's increased Childcare funding. Perhaps we can work with School District 35, to place modular buildings near schools (where school yard space is at a minimum) to address a lack of after school care. Are we utilizing space in our community centres or Township buildings to address the demand? As one of the largest employers in the Township of Langley, should there be a childcare facility in the Civic Building for Staff and community to utilize?
We need to take action and address poverty in our community and we need leaders willing to start the difficult process of finding solutions. Let's act to restore human dignity to those facing poverty and by doing so, we will also see an economic benefit in the long term. By ignoring poverty, we face costs related to healthcare, law enforcement and bylaw enforcement. Let's work together, as a community to address this issue.