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North Bay officials write open letter to community about changing the conversation around homelessness

North Bay -

North Bay’s mayor, police chief and other civic leaders say they want to change the conversation around homelessness in the city. So, they have written an open letter to all citizens on the issue, asking people to take a different view of things and to do their best to help.

Mayor Al McDonald told CTV News it’s written to the North Bay community in hopes people will start thinking more positively about what’s happening in their city.

“It’s really important for us to give voice to those who don’t,” said McDonald.

“So, homelessness, addictions and mental health is something that’s happening all around us. What we want to do is change that conversation in the community by saying there’s a lot of good stuff going on so now how can we work together to make it even better.”

The letter also talks about statistics relating to homeless people committing crime and being victims of crime, and the police chief is reminding North Bay citizens it’s not always the vulnerable committing crime.

“We would like people to understand that not all crime in North Bay is subject to someone who is homeless, substance issues or lives in a poverty situation,” said Chief Scott Tod.

While the letter is designed to highlight the good work being done, officials who signed it said there will be no change until people let go of the stigma surrounding homelessness.

“Don’t stigmatize people who live in situations where they are vulnerable," said Tod. "There’s so much collectively that we can do together in North Bay and collectively with the agencies to help people."

Mark King, chair of the District of Nipissing Social Services Administration Board, echoed Tod’s comments.

“There’s a real person there, and it’s disappointing to watch the stigma attached to that particular person,” said King.

“We’re all working together to try and improve the community and we’re also trying to improve the lifestyle of many people that are struggling.”

Now, the hope is that the community can come together to continue assisting these individuals in need, and instead of complaining, try to help.

“Take the time to learn a little bit more about homelessness, addictions and mental health,” said McDonald.

“I think when they do that, they will have a better understanding and then they will have that compassion and understanding of what these individuals are going through and all the individuals who are trying to make a difference in those people's lives.” Top Stories

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