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10 Surrey/North Delta Leader Thursday, May 1, 2014

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by Jeff Nagel

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have stemmed the tide of really rapid growth in homelessness.” She said the count reflects a minimum number of homeless because not all of those on the street or in shelters can be physically counted. A final report is set for release in July. It’s the fifth 24-hour snapshot of homelessness since the threeyear surveys began in 2002. Aboriginal people continue to be overrepresented, making up 582 of the homeless counted, or 31 per cent, Four per cent or 90 of the homeless counted were seniors over age 65. More than 400 youth

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less people in Metro Vancouver rose five per cent over the past three years, a relatively small change that has prompted advocates to declare the problem stabilized. Preliminary results of the 2014 Metro Vancouver homeless count on March 12 were released Wednesday, showing an overall count of 2,770 homeless in the region, up from 2,650 in 2011. The number of street homeless not found in shelters climbed 26 per cent to 957, although most of that increase was in the City of

Vancouver, where the street homeless count more than tripled to 538. Almost all other parts of Metro Vancouver saw decreases of street homeless – Surrey, Richmond, Burnaby and Maple Ridge/ Pitt Meadows all saw declines of 35 to 40 per cent. The number of sheltered homeless – counted in shelters, jails, hospitals, transition houses and detox centres – was down four per cent. “We’ve achieved some stability,” said Deb Bryant, chair of the Greater Vancouver Steering Committee on Homelessness. “We

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were counted as homeless – 63 per cent of them in Vancouver and 13 per cent in Surrey – a number Bryant called troublingly high. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said lower funding for shelter spaces and “renovictions” by some landlords may have driven up the number of street homeless in his city. And while he said there’s cause for optimism – several hundred new units of social housing set to open in Vancouver later this year – more investment plans must be laid for the future. Robertson and New Westminster Mayor Wayne Wright said the region needs senior government aid, particularly for the mentally ill and addicted who are considered hardest to house. “We’ve come a long way but there’s another leap that needs to be made,” Robertson said. Wright said he almost never hears from his residents about homelessness in New Westminster now, adding he believes Vancouver’s downtown lifestyle has become “a magnet” for at risk people, who may be gravitating there from other parts of the region. Both he and Robertson credited the provincial government for working with municipalities to build new shelters and social housing, along with other assistance.

jnagel@blackpress.ca

Surrey North Delta Leader, May 01, 2014  
Surrey North Delta Leader, May 01, 2014  

May 01, 2014 edition of the Surrey North Delta Leader