There's two sides to a coin and a story

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Why do people insist on making things harder for others? Especially when a) life is hard enough and b) we’re in the middle of a pandemic that has us doubling-down.

I took a tour of the Open Door 24/7 Integrated Hub last week, to chat with staff, figure out what was fact and what was rumour and get information to the community so they could make informed decisions about this facility and its programs.

One of the biggest issues with the Hub, which includes a homeless shelter component, is the behaviour of clients in the downtown core. People have been attacked, accosted by aggressive panhandlers and don’t feel safe. Businesses are concerned with customers not wanting to come downtown to shop because of the problem. All facts, all true and all legitimate feelings.

Here’s the other side of the coin.

There are people who live in this community who are hanging around outside the Hub, taking pictures of people coming and going, hurling racial slurs and attacking staff members.

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How on earth does that behaviour make you any better than the Hub clients accused of causing problems downtown? The people who are using the shelter to get food and a warm place to sleep at night — at a minimum, because they are also getting access to much-needed medical care, addictions treatment and other services that could potentially get them off the street, back into a home that gives them a mailbox so they could apply for a job and the people working to help them don’t need that. Nobody does.

As it was explained to me, asking someone who has lived in a constant state of “fight or flight” to have the ability to think bigger picture about respect for themselves, others and the community is impossible, until they eat, sleep, rehydrate and feel safe.

If you’re living in a comfortable home, with a job, education, supports from family and friends that allow you to lead a so-called “normal life” where you’re not worrying about where you’ll, eat, where you’ll sleep and where you’ll be safe — what’s your excuse?

The Open Door and the City of Wetaskiwin are working hard to address the issue of homelessness, inclusivity and diversity, what are you doing to help?

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Questions of comments? Email cmax@postmedia.com

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