I have read many letters, opinions and Sound Offs from people voicing their views on the issues of low-income housing. I say issues, but this is not a single issue the people of Brandon and across the country are facing.
First of all, low-income housing does not refer to people being given homes. For those who have worked for years on behalf of the poor, the recipients of Employment and Income Assistance and the homeless, low-income housing refers to affordable housing for people whether it be rentals or through sweat labour. The greatest emphasis is and continues to be on rentals.
The rental rates in Brandon are astronomical and the income level of people are much lower. Some are simply unable to handle working. It is enough for them to keep going after devastating illnesses, disabilities and crises that most have not a clue are so difficult.
I am not talking about doctors, lawyers and those fortunate enough to be able to save for a house, car and trips not to mention their retirement. I am talking about the people who struggle to make ends meet some working two or three jobs to put a roof over their heads and food on the table. I am talking about those who are disabled and can not work now, no matter how much they want to.
These people are preached at by condescending others telling them to “get a job” and I for one am tired of this horrible way of viewing fellow human beings. I am also talking about the homeless and believe me this is a serious problem in Brandon.
There are not enough emergency homeless units in this city and so many are turned away. Some sleep outside, others couch surf and there are those carted away or told to move on by those who have no idea how it feels to be homeless.
I suggest and implore the ones looking down on low-income housing to climb down from their high horses and imagine for one minute how it would feel to have no one and nowhere to go. Try to imagine living in squalor with not enough to feed and clothe your family.
When you have walked in those shoes, then you have earned the right to voice an opinion. Until then stop running down these much needed low-income housing programs and be proud that the City of Brandon cares enough to do something. And yes, I have walked in these shoes and have also worked for solutions.
HEATHER M. SHARPE
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 2, 2013