Langleys must do more to help alleviate homelessness

Editor: The recent Metro Homeless Count identified 3,605 in the region as homeless.

This was a 30 per cent increase, or an increase of 828 individuals since 2014.

In Langley specifically we saw an increase of 124 per cent in the total homeless population for a total of 206 individuals.

As we know, the count is considered a conservative estimate of the actual number of homeless so the number of homeless is in reality larger.

Given the continuous rise in the numbers of homeless in our region since the count was started in 2002, I am becoming more troubled by the messages coming from our local municipal leaders about what we can and cannot do to alleviate, or at least improve, the situation for both the homeless and our communities.

At times, it seems we are more concerned about ensuring others step up to the plate than actually looking at working to resolve the issue.

I know that we have made progress in the past 10-plus years locally; the building of the Gateway Of Hope, the expansion of our outreach efforts, with both the general population and youth, the adding of emergency inclement weather beds to help those living in camps, the formation of the “Homeless Action Table’ in the City and the recent efforts to set up of an “Intensive Community Management” (ICM) team.

All good efforts, but still the issue is largely unresolved. I don’t want to be negative, but all we hear is that we have done about as much as we can at the local level, that we cannot impact the issue without the province and federal governments stepping up.

I agree that we need a comprehensive plan designed to help us define and resolve the issue in Langley and this plan has to include all levels of government for it to be meaningful.

But we need leadership to pull together all the needed players.

It’s time for our City and Township mayors and councillors to roll up their sleeves and work together to help resolve this issue.

Saying we have done enough or we cannot do more is not going to move the ball forward.

Surely we can do more than just wait for others to make a plan for us, it’s up to us and the time to start is now.

My question is what are the next steps? What efforts are we making right now to bring the needed players to the table to map out a truly Langley/regional response to the growing issue of homelessness.

Kiernan Hillan,

Area Coordinator,

Metro Homeless Count 2017