EDITORIAL: Help the most vulnerable

Early intervention could help steer troubled youth in the right direction

Myriad key social issues exist in Mission, as they do in cities across British Columbia, each calling for attention from the public and decision-makers.

Helping the homeless is among them.

In recent years there have been steps taken in Mission to help out vulnerable citizens. The Haven in the Hollow first-stage facility on Logan Avenue is an excellent initial effort to aid those who have chosen to try to pull themselves out of a downward spiral.

Rivendell, the second-stage housing facility which occupies the former Grand Street Lodge, is another step forward in helping people ready to make changes in their lives.

But Mission’s homeless people aren’t merely those 19 years and older – many are still teenagers and they face an extra set of challenges.

Barry McLeod is a member of the Mission Youth Homelessness Committee. He spoke to District of Mission council recently and broached the idea of opening a youth resource centre here.

It’s an idea we believe has considerable merit.

Due to the difficulty of tracking homeless, a rough estimate has between 12 and 25 youth living on our streets.

This should not be.

Abbotsford has the successful Cyrus Centre, which also started as a resource facility for youth, and eventually expanded to offering beds.

With any new program comes an associated price tag, but with a long-term financial benefit as well, since the homeless are a significant draw on public health and social services.

In his presentation to council, McLeod said municipal, service club and community support will be required in the future if the centre is created. We hope this is something residents can support.

While oft said, it still remains true: Children are our future.

If we as a district believe this, then having youth living on our streets in unacceptable. If we intervene early enough in a troubled young person’s life, perhaps that will be the turning point to keep them from descending further down a dark path that has so often left people broken and hollow.