Twin towers, Victoria Anglican church

May 19, 2016. Yesterday I went to Tent City for the third time as I am trying to understand this situation. Victoria British Columbia is a city which has been developing a Medical model for people with mental illness and addictions. In the past some medical services for psychiatric patients has been downsized as family members did not like to see their loved ones with mental illness and addictions in a hospital setting. Advocacy groups started to try to develop programs to best help individuals with serious mental illness (SMI). Some of the organizations are the Pandora Arts Collective, the British Columbia Schizophrenia Society and Our Place Society. These three organizations provide psycho-social activities for individuals with SMI. They are not full-time activities, instead there are between 2 hours and 6 hours a week. These organizations all try to help people with SMI and they receive government funding to do so. Each organization is run by a board. These are not medically run organizations, however most of the clients are disabled. Very few of the absolute homeless populations make use out of these organizations psycho-social activities. To me the absolute homeless population means that the individual does not engage much with the rest of society. If this is so then it is a miracle that Tent city exists because it means that a collective has been formed by people who were otherwise isolated from each other.

I am a theorist. To me it seems that the people in Tent city have not found their answers in medical model, in treatment from community run organizations nor from connecting with street nurses. To me, homeless seems to be something outside the box of any other ideology around. There is no philosophy to describe this phenomenon and that is why social workers, doctors, psychiatrists, policemen, government workers and community organizations have had a such a hard time trying to fix this situation. Is the complete answer to homelessness i.e. Tent city housing? Does the Victoria British Columbia Canada government need to start building thousands of new apartment units and offer them to the homeless population at a very low price? Would this single act eradicate homelessness in Victoria British Columbia Canada? Hand someone some keys to an apartment unit and then homelessness will be solved?

Let’s imagine for a moment that housing was only part of the solution to homelessness. What other areas would need improvement? Could it be possible that certain sectors of our society would also need to be examined, such as our educational system, law system, medical system and employment systems to name but a few?

Perhaps the Tent city structure in Victoria City is an act of Protest. An act of protest to society. Perhaps it is a communication to the outside world that says, “Look at me, I exist too.”

Photo: May 18, 2016. Tent City and Anglican Church twin towers on Quadra St Victoria City.


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