Pitch the tents

Pitch the tents Re A Big Tent Community, Yukon News, May 27: With summer just around the corner Whitehorse's housing crisis is making its mark on the downtown core. Many community members are more likely to express their concerns this time of year. Why?

Re A Big Tent Community, Yukon News, May 27:

With summer just around the corner Whitehorse’s housing crisis is making its mark on the downtown core. Many community members are more likely to express their concerns this time of year.

Why?

Because more attention is brought to the impact that homelessness has on tourism, local business, and community esthetic.

What is often overlooked is that these are the very same individuals who have just lived through a long Yukon winter and, despite widely held beliefs, these same individuals were homeless in the winter too.

The difference Ð homelessness becomes more visible as the tents come out.

The Yukon Anti Poverty Coalition was encouraged to read Christina Asp’s letter to the editor on May 27.

She brought to light the gravity of the housing crisis and that a tent city is being considered by those who are likely to remain unsheltered over the coming months.

Asp also underlined the value of working together with compassion and understanding to enact solutions to homelessness.

As we understand it, although a tent city is being considered, a location has yet to be determined. As she suggests, beside the Salvation Army is a very unlikely option.

The coalition recognizes that Whitehorse’s housing shortage does not stop at sheltering those who access services at the Salvation Army.

Low vacancy rates, unaffordable home ownership and a boom in employment are all contributing to the current crisis.

The coalition’s report, A Home for Everyone: A Housing Action Plan for Whitehorse, highlights the wide spectrum of pressing housing needs. We are calling upon Whitehorse, Government of Yukon and Yukon First Nations to lead the community in implementing both short and long-term solutions.

The coalition and its housing task force have invited Whitehorse, Yukon government, Kwanlin Dun First Nation, and Ta’an Kwach’an Council to find solutions to the summer housing crisis. The Housing Task Force believes creative, safe options exist and need to be implemented now.

Nevertheless, the task force also understands that those in need of immediate shelter are tired of waiting for someone to step up to the plate and make an announcement. It’s quite possible a tent city may become a reality in the very near future.

Overcoming this housing crisis is not insurmountable, nor should we use it as an opportunity to judge those who find themselves without a home.

The question is no longer why do people find themselves without, but what are our community leaders willing to do about it today?

Kate Mechan

Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition

Whitehorse