Vernon’s MLAhas been told that government downloading is placing pressure on communities to deal with homelessness.
Eric Foster appeared before Vernon city council to discuss homelessness and the city’s recent dismantling of two tent camps.
“What’s driving homelessness is drug addiction and mental health and there’s not much being done,” said Coun. Scott Anderson.
Coun. Dalvir Nahal also pointed out that people struggling with a variety of issues don’t have programs to access that allow them to move on with their lives.
“The hospital treats them and back on the street they go,” she said.
Coun. Juliette Cunningham also called for housing to be linked to mental health and addiction programs.
“It’s important that we connect the dots. There’s not enough integration,” she said.
“You can put someone into recovery but if they’re not stabilized, they cycle right back into the system.”
Foster insists that the Liberal government is taking the issue seriously and $8.3 million was spent on all forms of assisted housing in 2015/16.
As an example, he points to a former motel being purchased to provide housing.
“They (tenants) will transition from shelters until we can get them into permanent housing.”
Foster says rental assistance is also available for those in the private market.
“No one gets turned down,” he said.
In terms of connecting housing with mental health and addiction services, Foster says the government has made substantial investments.
“Could we do more, sure. But there is a limit. We try to make the best use of the money we have,” he said.