Action plan coming for Chilliwack to fight homelessness

Specific efforts will be directed toward "entrenched" homeless, meaning those who refuse help

A new action plan on homelessness is in the works by a multi-agency task force

Chilliwack is taking its fight against homelessness to the next level.

A new action plan is in the works by a multi-agency task force, said Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz.

They’re determined to map out new strategies despite the fact that the local homeless numbers fell 34 per cent — from 111 to 73 people — last year.

“Although this responsibility rests with the provincial government, we want to be proactive in formalizing plans that will help house people in Chilliwack,” announced Gaetz in a news release Tuesday.

The topic is set to come up on the floor of the Union of B.C. Municipalities at the annual convention next week in Vancouver.

“Having a formal strategy will be helpful when approaching senior levels of government for funding and in identifying possible cost-sharing opportunities,” said Gaetz.

But specific efforts will also be directed toward “entrenched” homeless, those who refuse help.

Homelessness is not unique to Chilliwack, but the consensus is that a comprehensive province-wide strategy is sorely needed.

“Ultimately, we want the province to put resources into homelessness and initiate a provincial homeless action plan,” said Mayor Gaetz. “Although we are hopeful that several upcoming resolutions at UBCM will demonstrate this universal need to senior levels of government, we want to continue the good work our community has been doing to ensure that everyone can access shelter and formalize a Chilliwack homeless action plan.”

Given the reduced homeless count numbers that came out last year, it’s clear programs in place are making a difference by offering street people a range of shelter options from subsidized to supportive housing.

“We are proud to have such a compassionate and caring community here in Chilliwack,” said Councillor Ken Popove, co-chair of Chilliwack Healthier Community (CHC). “We would like to encourage residents to make the best use of their donations by supporting one of the many social service organizations in Chilliwack.”

Work on the new action plan will begin by identifying the causes of homelessness and strategies to address each cause.

The new task force will bring together reps from City of Chilliwack, Chilliwack Healthier Community, RCMP, Pacific Community Resources Society, Ruth and Naomi’s Mission and Salvation Army.

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

twitter.com/chwkjourno

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