How do you get a job or keep one, deal with trauma, mental health or addiction struggles, or even keep a positive attitude, if you are sleeping out in the cold?
How do you stay healthy or avoid COVID-19, for that matter, if you don’t have easy access to a washroom?
As Maureen Mackell, of Squamish Helping Hands, told The Chief when we toured the new Under One Roof facility on Third Avenue last week, the answer is, you don’t.
Without a roof over your head, you stay stuck in a spiral of trying to survive.
Those on the street — or in the forest — in Squamish who are living this will tell you, if you ask, it is not easy, especially as the weather gets colder and wetter.
Throw in mental illness for some — and the pandemic is certainly not helping anyone with their mental health — and you have an untenable situation.
Everyone deserves a home and to be treated with dignity and respect.
And that is where Under One Roof comes in.
It is something all of us in Squamish can champion, and feel proud of, whether we are without shelter or not.
Though there is sometimes an invisible divide between the material haves and have-nots in town, that barrier doesn’t serve anyone.
Under One Roof is meant to bring Squamish together.
It has already brought different organizations together to found it: Squamish Helping Hands, the District, BC Housing, the Food Bank and Vancouver Coastal Health, for example.
The building that is now created is for us, Squamish.
Anyone can shop for food at The Market. Those who can afford it may donate funds for their lot, which will go back into the facility.
And there will be opportunities for families to come have a meal there.
There will be laundry services, too, with jobs created and revenue put back into all the wellness programming and services that will be offered.
We all need this place. Not just because there are approximately 200 people without homes locally, according to Helping Hands figures, but because we all need to feel a little more connected these days, studies show.
Two-thirds of people in B.C. (66%) report they would like to experience more meaningful social interactions in their daily life, according to a study released by the Canadian Mental Health Association in May.
“Some kind of social support is important to well-being,” according to the association and, well, common sense.
Yes, the Under One Roof project will give a safe place to sleep, food and health support for those who most need it; and it will offer essential harm reduction services, which are, after all, preventive health care.
And that should be enough for us to support Under One Roof, but it will also be a place where everyone is valued and shown dignity, whether they have four walls of their own, or not.
We are lucky to have it.
For more on the facility go to underoneroofsquamish.ca