A homeless man lying on a bench. (Black Press file photo)

Chilliwack saw biggest spike in homeless of all communities

Those of aboriginal ancestry were again over-represented in 2017 Homeless Count numbers

Chilliwack saw the biggest spike in homelessness across the Fraser Valley, according to the 2017 Homeless Count final report.

The total number in the FVRD this time around was 606, up 75 per cent from the last homeless count in 2014, and of that number, Chilliwack had 221 who self-identified as homeless.

READ MORE: Chilliwack’s increase a concern

The FVRD board received the final report on the 2017 Homeless Count last week.

“Homelessness is one of the most pressing issues in our region and across the country,” said Jason Lum, chair of the FVRD.

No one agency can solve it on their own. The final report underlined “how important it is that we continue to work in collaboration with other levels of government and community agencies” to tackle housing issues, Lum said.

“We especially hope that this data will help to further inform the federal government and the National Housing Strategy.”

More than two-thirds of those counted were found to be “chronically homeless,” or 68 per cent reported living rough for at least six months.

Indigenous people were disproportionately represented — again.

That calls for a policy “rethink,” according to the report.

Although 35 per cent in the count said they were of aboriginal ancestry, overall Indigenous people only represent four per cent of the general population in the FVRD.

“That (disproportionate representation) wouldn’t surprise me at all,” said Grand Chief Doug Kelly, chair of the First Nations Health Council (FNHC). “The legacy of residential schools, racism, trauma and grief, have caused our citizens a lot of pain.”

First Nations are also over-represented in terms of the number of kids in care, as well as in the corrections system.

What is sorely needed is accessible services that are both trauma and grief informed, he said.

“The FNHC has partnered with the Government of Canada and the Province of B.C. in a bid to work together on the broader social determinants of health, and one of them is housing,” he said.

Although housing stability is “not on the current list of action items” being tackled by the FNHC, “I am sure it will be,” Kelly said.

Having spoken to some Chilliwack-area Sto:lo leaders, Grand Chief Kelly said increased homelessness is certainly on their radar.

“We know it’s a growing concern, and we need to work with all levels of government together to tackle it. We have work to do,” he said.

READ MORE: Shopping carts confiscated in DT Chilliwack

Not surprisingly 68 per cent of respondents reported substance use; 49 cent a medical condition; 46 per cent mental illness; and 29 per cent a disability.

“We know that those who live outside are frustrated,” added Lum. “We know that our communities are frustrated. And while many of us in the Fraser Valley are seeing progress in terms of increased shelter spaces, expanded outreach and support programs, we’re still a long way away from adequately addressing the problem.

“The final results from the 2017 survey underscore the urgency in working together to tackle this complicated issue,” said Lum.

READ MORE: Town Hall Meeting about Homelessness


 

@chwkjourno
jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Kelly Janveaux announces her candidacy for School Board Trustee

A long-time youth advocate, this will be Janveaux’s first time running in a public election

Mt. Hicks fire 15% contained, continues to burn north of Agassiz

The fire, suspected to be caused by a vehicle with a flat tire, not threatening any structures

UPDATE: Anonymous tip leads DFO night patrol to Fraser River poachers

Charges pending after poachers arrested at night while fishing, 48 sockeye, harbour seal seized

Chilliwack is home to Sasquatch, the first Canadian-designed hops plant

Created by Hops Connect, the Sasquatch hop is the country’s first patented hops plant

Retro meets modern design with idea for iconic Paramount sign

Proposed Paramount Project plans for downtown Chilliwack unveiled Monday

Kim XO is Black Press Media’s fashionista

Starting Sept. 7, stylist Kim XO will host Fashion Fridays on the Life channel on Black Press Meida

Minister optimistic after 2 days of Columbia River Treaty negotiations

Canadian and U.S. officials met in Nelson Wednesday and Thursday to discuss future of the treaty

Man dies in B.C. police cell while awaiting court hearing

An independent investigation is underway after a man died while in Penticton police custody Aug. 16

RCMP appeal for tips, dashcam footage in German tourist shooting west of Calgary

The Durango crashed into the ditch after the shooting near the Goodstoney Rodeo Centre

2 nurses attacked at B.C. psych hospital, union calls for in-unit security

PHSA says that in-unit guards would do more harm than good

Former B.C. optician won’t be jailed for sexually assaulting minor

Kenneth Pilkington sentenced to 24 months’ probation for offence three decades ago

Police responding to ‘unfolding’ incident in Maple Ridge suburb

Helicopter, dog team, guns drawn and 16 police vehicles at Maple Ridge property

Red Cross now accepting donations for those impacted by B.C. wildfires

The Canadian Red Cross is asking for help now and in the weeks and months ahead.

1954-built trolleybus hits Vancouver roads for 70th anniversary

TransLink to offer free rides on a retrofitted electric trolley bus to commemorate anniversary

Most Read