Parksville homeless advocacy group asks for help from province during COVID-19 pandemic

Watch Advocacy groups for Parksville's homeless population is asking the local government to step up and take more action amid COVID-19 pandemic

In an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, Health officials in B.C. are asking everyone to stay home if you aren’t feeling well.

But what if you have no home?

Advocate for the homeless Kelley Morris says homeless people cannot remain in the streets during this pandemic.

“If we don’t get address this and get those people into those places, there’s going to be a worse epidemic,” said Morris.

“We’re just going to keep spreading it; we need to get these people in.”

The homeless population in Parksville is struggling, and Morris says it’s time for the municipal government to step in  and use existing facilities as shelters during COVID-19.

For Morris, she has personal experience on the streets, and said those still there need help.

“I grew up on these streets, since I was 12 I’ve been homeless, it took me a long time to learn how to live in doors. This is my first place, I’ve had it for five years,” said the now homed resident.

For the homeless in Parksville, things are not getting any easier, as the only shelter in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area is now closed due to COVID-19 concerns — St. Anne’s Anglican Church.

“Our 125-year-old log church is not plumbed, so there’s no running water and the place is small, and we were having up to 18 guests. As you can imagine there’s not enough room for social distancing for public safety,” explained Associate Priest Christine Muise.

This priest says there is already high rates of poverty in the region and there are 200 more people living on the edge of becoming homeless.

“With this COVID-19 and the job losses, we are going to be facing an even greater crisis that’s much bigger than just the 18 guest we were helping here,” said Muise.

Homeless advocacy groups in Parksville say it has been impossible to get the municipal government to help the homeless population, and say they have reached out to the council multiple times with no response.

Councillor Adam Fras is one of the many councillors Morris has reached out to with no call back.

Fras says finding homes for the homeless is not the city’s responsibility, but rather it is up to the Provincial government to find accommodations for those in need.

And B.C. Housing is looking into doing just that.

“We’re looking at a variety of options, hotels, motels, but as well options like temporary modular housing. We’ve been very successful with that program across the province and also looking at community centres. as the minister said, when those spaces are needed. they will be ready to go.”

Hopefully for some, help is on the way.

Rebecca LawrenceRebecca Lawrence

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