For Joyce Clearihue the plight of the homeless has been made real by knowing someone who lived and died on the streets of Victoria; and the best solution to homelessness has been made equally clear by a visit to Olympic Vista, an apartment operated by the Cool Aid Society, which offers homeless seniors security, a square meal a day, and a caring community.
It may sound obvious, but the solution to homelessness is affordable living spaces for those who don’t have them. “I think donations should go to that,” Joyce, well known for her philanthropism, said recently. “And it can’t just be from individual people, it does have to be from large corporations and large groups.”
Joyce was among those who visited Olympic Vista shortly after it was opened in 2012. The building, located near Uptown in Saanich, offers supported living to 34 former homeless people. Seeing the difference a secure, safe environment made for Olympic Vista’s tenants convinced Joyce that affordable housing is an investment we should be making.
“The part that was fascinating to me was to visit with the seniors in their rooms,” she said. “I really got a lot out of speaking directly to the people who were there. For me that touched a string.”
She has seen the consequences for some of not having a place to live, or access to the services that will help them lead healthy lifestyles. “I have known a young man from when he was just a child,” she recounted, “he passed away recently on the streets.” The ‘sense of community’ he would have found at a place like Olympic Vista would have changed his life, she believes.