BC Housing is considering turning the Quality Inn beside Home Depot into supportive housing for the homeless.
BC Housing and Stepping Stone Community Services Society are proposing to convert the existing 50-room hotel into 49 units of supportive housing as well as programming space.
A public information meeting is being held Monday, Oct. 30. Doors open at 5 p.m., at the Langley Events Centre, with a presentation by BC Housing and Stepping Stone scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m.
From 5:45 until 7 p.m. there will be a facilitated dialogue with BC Housing, Stepping Stone, and Fraser Health.
The proposal includes an office for the new Integrated Care Management (ICM) team funded through the Fraser Health to provide access to treatment for people who are homeless.
This supportive housing effort comes in response to the increase in the number of homeless people in the Langleys. Supportive housing is intended for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, to help them transition from shelters, the street or unstable housing into housing with supports, and ultimately into independent living, said a representative from BC Housing.
Langley has seen one of the largest increases in homelessness in Metro Vancouver.
“We know homelessness is a growing problem in all major cities in North America. The cost to municipalities is large. I just had a request from engineering and parks to increase their budget for costs they are incurring to clean up parks and encampments,” said Township mayor Jack Froese.
On Tuesday, Township bylaw officers arrived with half a dozen trucks to remove a large homeless camp on 30 Avenue, near 200 Street.
That area is now added to bylaws’ weekly inspections, so the camp doesn’t pop up again.
“We do enforcement with compassion. Bylaws has done a really good job establishing relationships,” Froese said.
The mayor said he recently toured some of the camps with bylaw officers and meets with the Gateway of Hope director Emmy Skates on a regular basis.
“We have services like Gateway, Stepping Stone, and we are excited to get the Integrated Case Management team going very soon. BC Housing is working hard to get the supportive housing component coming here to Langley and from what I understand, the Youth Resource Centre is opening in early 2018,” said Froese about the efforts made in Langley to help the homeless.
“There are many who do fall through the cracks and want help but there are some in tents who really don’t want help at this time in their lives,” said Froese.
The Langleys saw a 124 per cent increase in the number of homeless people since the last count in 2014.
There were 206 homeless people counted in Langley in the 2017 Metro Vancouver count, which was conducted over two days in March.
The Gateway of Hope operates 32 shelter beds and has an additional 25 beds in their transitional housing program that offers two years of permanent housing. Both programs are full, said Skates.
In response to a large camp next to the Nicomekl River, at 207 Street in Langley City, the provincial government opened up a 30 mat relief shelter last year to give campers a place to stay. Because of the increase in homelessness in Langley, that relief program has been extended indefinitely, said Skates.
They have felt the increase and said there are some new faces showing up this year as people come from other parts of B.C.
However, Gateway isn’t asking to have its shelter expanded, said Skates.
“When Gateway was built it was meant for a capacity of 30 beds and 25 spots for the long-term transitional housing program.
“It’s all we have space for now,” said Skates.