Skip to content

A common sense solution to Vernon’s housing crisis epidemic

LETTER: Struggling residents don’t need a new pool, they need homes
Active Living Centre conceptual design of the lobby. (City of Vernon graphic)

The housing crisis is a nightmare that seems to have no end. It’s frustrating to see how people are struggling to find affordable homes while the prices keep skyrocketing. What is even sadder is the lack of common sense, when there is a solution that is entirely doable and dangling right in front of all of us.

The City of Vernon is making plans to build a $121 million recreation complex! In the midst of a housing crisis epidemic. Where families are displaced all over Vernon.

It is wonderful that we have built two supportive housing complexes for individuals in active addiction or with mental health issues, it took the homeless population setting up camp downtown on the corner of a busy intersection in front of People Place for two years, for enough people to notice and something to be done.

The problem is that single parent families and low income families that are homeless cannot camp out in our city’s downtown core because they have children, instead they are hidden away, families with small children in one room hotels, living amongst individuals in active addiction or with mental health concerns, families are having to split up, with the dad in a shelter, while the mom and kids are in a transition house, families are living in campers on the side of the road, families staying on people’s couches.

If asked, I’m sure these displaced families, or the ones paying 100 per cent of their income with a constant worry of eviction would say that they would much prefer 150 low income housing units than a new recreation complex boasting three things that Vernon already has: a pool for swimming laps, a gymnasium for floor hockey and square dancing lessons, and a walking center for seniors to keep fit. Yes the current complex could do with an overhaul, which $10 million could be put into upgrades, leaving $110 million and a property ready for construction to use for homes for low income families.

READ MORE: Contractor signed for Vernon Active Living Centre

It is important to prioritize the basic needs of the community before investing in luxury amenities. Providing affordable housing should be a top priority for any city or town. It’s a fundamental right for every individual to have a safe and stable home. The city should focus on building affordable housing units to address the current crisis of homelessness and displacement of low income families. This would not only benefit the families in need but also have a positive impact on the local economy. By providing affordable housing, families will have more disposable income to spend on other necessities, which will help boost the local businesses. It’s time for the city to reconsider its priorities and invest in the basic needs of its people.

With more affordable housing options available, landlords would have to lower their rental prices to compete with these new developments. This would benefit not only those in need of affordable housing, but also those who are struggling to make ends meet and find decent housing options.

Furthermore, providing stable affordable housing to homeless families would also have positive impacts on the community as a whole.

Homelessness often leads to a range of social problems, including drug addiction, crime, and mental health issues. By providing stable housing, families would be able to focus on rebuilding their lives, finding employment, and improving their overall well-being.

Overall, using this property to build low income housing would be a win-win for the city and its residents. It would provide much needed affordable housing options, while also addressing the root causes of homelessness and improving the overall well-being of the community

While a new swimming pool may sound like a fun and exciting addition to our town, I ask you to think about the families in our community who are struggling to make ends meet. For them, a quality of life cannot be achieved by simply going for a swim. Instead, they need a safe, affordable place to call home – a place where they can raise their children with dignity and security.

We have the power to make a difference in the lives of hundreds of local Vernon families by choosing to invest in long-term housing solutions.

We can provide them with the stability and support they need to thrive, to build a better future for themselves and their children.

As we prepare to finalize the details on the multi million dollar recreational activity center, let us remember the importance of compassion and kindness. Let us choose to make a real difference in the lives of our neighbours. I urge you to vote for long-term housing solutions, to give the gift of security and hope to those who need it most.

Amy Leboe

single parent and Vernon resident

Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

Vernon has always been my home, and I've been working at The Morning Star since 2004.
Read more