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Ladner promises to stick to city's Homeless Action Plan

Non-Partisan Association mayoral candidate Peter Ladner outlined his party's position on homelessness at a Tyee and 24 Hours-sponsored debate at St. Andrew's-Wesley United Church last night:

I want to have a moment for a quick story about three monks who were standing beside a river. Watching the river, they saw a man come down drowning in the river. And one of them leaped into the water, swam over, rescued the man and dragged him to shore.

The other two were just about to start ministering to the man when a second person came floating down the river -- a woman drowning. The second monk dove into the water and grabbed that woman.

And then another person came down the river drowning. A third monk took off upstream and the other two said, 'What are you doing?'

He said, 'I'm going to find out where these people are coming from and deal with that, so we don’t have to stand here and rescue people for the rest of time.'

We have to be looking upstream and at the emergency in front of us.

I have been personally involved in dealing with the emergency in front of us by engaging with the Salvation Army. We’ve been down feeding people, working at the kitchens on Monday afternoons and evenings at the Harbour Lights Mission.

I have been involved in the upstream through the Coast Mental Health Foundation, realizing that engaging in the community and providing homes for people who have mental illness prevents them from being on the street in the hands of the drug dealers.

It's a terrible situation that people live in in the Downtown Eastside and that too is where we have to put effort.

Also upstream are the three goals of the city's Homeless Action Plan.

They also coincide with the region's Homeless Action Plan and they also coincide with the Premier's Homeless Task Force Plan.

The three goals are basic, simple and fundamental.

The first one is to increase income. People who have no income have no options. And to that point, we have been working hard, sending people out into the streets on outreach groups, getting people inside, fast tracking them to welfare, getting through all the bureaucratic barriers to welfare, getting people some shelter allowances.

And we have in fact worked with the provincial government to increase the shelter allowance and increase the welfare allowance.

It's not enough, but there have been positive steps taken and we have to keep working on that.

The second element is to provide more supportive housing. That’s something that the city has been working very hard on.

There are 3,800 units of housing -- many of them supportive housing -- that have either been built since 2005, or under construction, or conversion or on track to be built by the end of 2010.

This is a tremendous achievement. It’s a tremendous step forward. It's not obvious when you look on the streets, but it is happening and it will have a huge impact. And it will be a reflection of our city’s commitment as the city in Canada that is doing the most of any city to provide city resources for dealing with homelessness.

The third element is expanded mental health and addiction service. Without that we will never achieve our goals. Without those three elements we will not solve this problem.

That’s our plan, that’s what we have been working on a city hall. And I must say we have the collaboration of all the people in council.

There’s seldom disagreement on these matters.

It is working -- though the results aren't as obvious as we would all like them to be.

We're sticking to that plan, and I will bring a renewed determination to that plan to see that we carry it through.

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