Editor’s note: David Connelly‘s letter is referring to a story that appeared in the March 2 issue of News/North, “Cabinet alerted about losing housing project in January.”
I can not think of a Member of the Legislative Assembly, City Council or our Member of Parliament who did include addressing homelessness in their campaign promises. A new facility of 42 units would take years to get off the ground and likely cost $8 million to $11 million and the government would be left to run it and pay the many costs of the homeless persons remaining on the street for the years it would take to build a new facility.
The Yellowknife Women’s Society is an effective, non-governmental group that has put forward a powerful, timely and extremely cost effective solution that can make a meaningful intervention to improve, if not save and lengthen lives of 42 northern residents in desperate need very quickly. All governments should act to enable it.
The math is clear. For approximately $15,000 capital contribution per unit from the GNWT: 42 homeless persons can have warm, safe shelters with dignity. As they transition with the support of the not-for-profit sector additional homeless persons can be accommodated. Put another way for approximately $650,000 the GNWT gets what would cost new $8 to $11 million and take years to do. The GNWT and City would be able to tick off one of their stated priorities. And society gets a noticeable benefit.
I can not understand why all governments are not pulling together to enable this solution rather than letting process derail something which is the right thing to do for so many reasons and particularly for those without a warm and safe place to sleep tonight.
A circular response letter from the GNWT dated Feb. 25, written after the news of the rejection leaked, pointed the finger at the federal review process yet also saying the GNWT supports the federal review process at the expense of letting the project wither and die a month from now.
The GNWT letter does not offer any guidance on what needs to be improved and why or how the application after a year of review fell short. No offer to go to bat for this homelessness solution with the federal government and not a mention of accepting the concerned citizens’ offer of assistance.