Letter: ‘Seniors, families, disabled disadvantaged by circumstance not by choice

Not too late…to ensure that a realistic number of apartments are designated for those who have not had a choice or a voice.

To the editor:

Referring to the announcement that the Province of B.C. and the City of Kelowna are planning to develop 90 apartments on the Central Green site on Richter Street (former site of the Kelowna Secondary School), I note that this housing will be for those with low-to-modest incomes.

In recent years numerous affordable housing has been provided for those addicted to drugs and alcohol, women on the street, criminal backgrounds, prostitutes, unwed moms, etc. A large number of units were designated for seniors, families and those with a disability.

Ironically, those are the group that did not choose to be born that way, unlike those who chose their lifestyle.

They are also less able to make their voices heard.

Perhaps that is why they have been forgotten in so many areas of their lives.

Most people are not aware that their monthly income is only $906.42—about the lowest possible income in the province. Their housing allowance (most are single) is $375 per month. There are no apartments or rooms at this rate, so they have to use their food money to make up the difference.

It is true that they can retain some part-time earnings if they can find a job—and certainly the provincial government is encouraging them to do so. Yet they, and I believe the City of Kelowna, have thus far not opened their doors to any positions they would be able to fill.

This project is in the early stages, so it is not too late for those designing the units to ensure that a realistic number of apartments are designated for those who have not had a choice or a voice, and are forced to live in sub-standard, unhealthy, over-priced and sometimes unsafe environments while their health suffers from inadequate nutrition and lost opportunities to participate in activities such as Special Olympics and other programs offered at the Rc Centre, as these are costly activities for those on such a low income.

Kelowna has a reputation for being a generous, giving and caring community that pulls together when there is a need. While I am not challenged, I feel compelled to be the voice of those most in need, as they can use all the support and encouragement we can offer them.

Acceptance is one of their greatest needs. How many of your readers count one of them in their circle of friends? When is the last time you met with one for coffee, went to a movie or for dinner, included them at your barbecue or birthday party?

They are people too and spending time with one of them would go a long way towards giving you an attitude of gratitude, not only for yourself but for your healthy children and grandchildren.

Please, give this some thought and if you would like to get involved in making a change, please feel free to phone me at 250-763-8003.

Patricia Graham,

Kelowna

 

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