Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Cool Aid Society & Olympic Vista

Here is a statement I made in the Legislature yesterday:
L. Popham: I rise to speak on the accomplishments of the Cool Aid Society. As is well-known in this House, the Cool Aid Society is the lead organization in the capital region helping homeless people. At the moment, Cool Aid is providing 374 supportive housing apartments and shelter for over 1,700 people every year. Cool Aid does tremendous work, and its staff and supporters have our heartfelt thanks.

One of Cool Aid's remarkable success stories is Olympic vista located in Saanich South. It was completed in 2011 and provides long-term supportive housing for 36 seniors who have struggled with homelessness. 
visited the site last week, and I was so impressed by the staff that work at Olympic Vista because they are dedicated to ensuring that this is not just a facility addressing a serious problem but a safe, welcoming home with access to the help and the respect that these residents require to thrive and make their housing situation successful.
One feature that Olympic Vista has incorporated is something I found remarkable and very innovative. In the basement they have created a bedbug sauna. The new residents have all of their possessions baked in the sauna before they move in. This feature not only kills bedbugs using heat instead of toxic chemicals, but it allows residents to deal with a physically and psychologically disturbing problem in a respectful and efficient way. Features like this add to the success of Olympic Vista.

Looking the other way while a person lives on the streets costs taxpayers, on average, $54,000 per year — in large part because of hospital and other emergency services. Cool Aid can get people off the streets, house them safely and give them a chance to turn their lives around for less than $37,000 a year. That means that on average, every homeless person who Cool Aid helps saves the taxpayer $18,000 a year.

Homelessness remains a crisis. I thank Cool Aid for their work and wish them success on their next project in the capital region, Cottage Grove. It's shovel-ready. It has significant financial and community support. From what I've heard, I think the provincial government is interested in partnering financially as well.