It’s going to take more than Mission council to successfully deal with this area’s growing homeless issues.
That’s the message Mission Mayor Randy Hawes believes has to become apparent. He called homelessness a community issue.
“This is not a thing for city council to fix, or the police to fix, or the health authority. This belongs to all of us. Every citizen has a little bit to play in this,” said Hawes.
Council held a special meeting on Friday to listen and discuss some of the ideas created for Stone Soup – an outreach program to connect services to people who are homeless or suffering from addiction.
Paul Horn of BootStrap Consulting and Kirsten Hargreaves, the district’s manager of social development went over 35 possible initiatives ranging from monthly potluck dinners to community mentor programs and even providing housing options.
Another possible initiative is the creation of an info card so people know where to get help and what group is providing it.
Horn explained to council that some individuals have “strong choices” of where they go for help.
As an example, Horn said faith-based charities may not resonate for some, while others will have the opposite reaction.
Heidi Smith, a member of the public who attended the meeting, told council that most of the ideas presented were just addressing the symptoms.
“These people need a home,” she said. “Let’s deal with the really difficult issues, the big issues.”
But Hawes said if council starts looking at those kind of long-range solutions, they could end up not doing anything at all.
The purpose of the meeting was to examine all of the ideas and see which ones council felt it may play a part in.
“The very fundamental notion of Stone Soup is that everybody will contribute that one thing they have to contribute so that the intent is that the load is spread very evenly which is both effective and efficient,” said Horn.
Hawes said some of the initiatives have already been started by service groups, while others require limited participation by the district.
“More or less we talked about what things we should get going on and there were a few things that we can see we will probably have to invest a little money on,” said Hawes.
He said organizers will have to come back to council with a figure of how much they need.
“(You) can’t commit to something when you have no idea of the cost.”
He called the meeting an evolutionary process, adding there will be more meetings in the future.
“The genesis of the program was just a few months ago,” he said, adding they have to decide “who should be involved and how do we get them involved.”
Once thing he knows for certain is council can’t solve it alone.