To the editor:
Re: "Social housing provider operates hotel brothels," May 16.
Mark Hasiuk is misguided and ill-informed. The Downtown Eastside hotels he refers to offer low barrier housing to hard-to-house women. These women indeed do have "tragic histories of abuse and neglect" and the housing they are able to access provides them with a safe place to eat, sleep and live. The only alternative housing available to them is a cardboard box under a bridge or sleeping in a doorway or back alley where they may be assaulted or die of an overdose.
Unlike many housing units, these hotels allow women to have guests in their rooms, which often includes family members and support workers providing services, such as nurses and social workers.
Difficult-to-house women are often involved in the sex trade and have serious addictions to street drugs. Sometimes a guest may pay for sex. This is called "survival sex."
Women use the money to buy food and street drugs so they can survive another day living their sad and tragic lives. The staff who work in these hotels are kind and compassionate. They assist the women in many areas of their lives including accessing health care, negotiating the court system or providing support during a supervised visit with their children.
Solutions to these types of problems are complex and superimposing a set of rules from another country, that has a more comprehensive social safety net, is not the answer.
Solutions lie in preventing the very circumstances that force women to live in one of these hotels and engage in survival sex.
Let's take some action to prevent the circumstances that force these women into these hotels and the accompanying lifestyle because there are no other options available to them.
Catherine Astin, Vancouver