Homelessness forum tonight

Mayor, MP and Supt. of RCMP detachment to participate in panel discussion

Mary Polak

Langley City residents are invited to a public forum on homelessness organized by MLA Mary Polak on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 7 p.m. at the Coast Langley City Hotel and Convention Centre at 20393 Fraser Hwy, which is donating the meeting space.

Polak will be joined by Langley City mayor Ted Schaffer (pictured second from top) , Cloverdale-Langley City MP John Aldag (pictured third from top) and Langley RCMP Supt. Murray Power.

The event is free and open to all.

The format will see the panel make short opening statements followed by a question and answer session with the audience.

MLA Polak described the event as an oppoSchafferrtunity for people to share their experiences with homelessness and to propose ideas to address the issue.

“This needs to be more than an empty exercise,” Polak said.

“I’m confident we’re going to hear some very good suggestions.”

Polak said the issue has become noticeably worse over the last year-and-a-half.

“Theres has been a distinct change, why I’m not sure,” Polak said.

Mayor Schaffer, who this week announced an agreement with BC Housing to create temporary indoor accommodation for homeless people, welcomed the announcement.

“These are all positive steps,” Schaffer said.

MP Aldag callAldaged the forum a step in the right direction, calling  homelessness a “tragic and difficult” problem.

“It’s the kind of issue that requires all levels of government to work together,” Aldag said.

Aldag said a U.S.-style housing-first strategy that gives priority to getting people off the streets is something that should be considered.

“We have to have a place to house them,” Aldag said.

“The fact that we have a mild climate in B.C. doesn’t mean we can say it’s okay (for people to live in tents).”

Housing-first makes finding homes for the homeless the first priority, while issues of addiction and mental illness are addressed after people get off the street.

In the U.S. it’s estimated the approach has reduced homeless-related costs to communities by 60 per cent.