We're told it will be a Christmas like no other, and that in order to flatten the curve of the pandemic we need to really tighten up our social bubbles and make a sacrifice this Christmas.
And you know what, on December 25th when we are merry in our hopefully much, much smaller immediate bubbles, the homeless in our community will still be homeless and isolated and not having a very Merry Christmas.
This year, at a time when governments are going out of their way to look out for ordinary citizens affected by the pandemic, the homeless are being left out in the cold to fend for themselves.
There's no room in the Inn, and unlike Mary & Joseph, there isn't even a stable or barnyard for them to pitch a tent in.
Our "Inn" aka 3030 Gordon, has been full since opening in 2015, and the Cold Weather Mat Program has been cancelled due to COVID-19 safety regulations.
At the worst time of the year, when people are most susceptible to catching a cold and the flu, we have left the homeless outside because there was no room.
Sure we've collected warm socks, and blankets for the homeless, but honestly, what good does it do if at the end of the day they are going to be stuck sleeping in the bushes, in doorways or under highway overpasses?
If we can't give these people, and that is what they are, human beings who live in our community and who were possibly even our neighbours at one time, a warm dry place to stay at night, shouldn't we at least give them tents and a place to pitch them safely?
It seems to me we have a double standard when it comes to being homeless in this country. Lose your home in a flood or a fire or other such natural disaster and we open up gymnasiums, community centres and worst-case scenarios, we pitch large army tents.
We erect temporary field hospitals when the COVID wards get full, and we even create temporary morgues for the dead.
But hey, if you're homeless it sure sucks to be you and we're sure sorry we can't bring you inside due to COVID-19 safety regulations. Here are some warm socks, a blanket, and some hand sanitizer, Merry Christmas and we'll go back to ignoring you until the weather gets cold and wet next year — and if we're still in the midst of the pandemic, well you know, it sucks to be you.
If we can't even house the most vulnerable citizens of our community in the midst of the most deadly pandemic in recent times, what does that say about our values and our priorities?
Merry Christmas indeed.
Rob Bottos, Coquitlam