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



Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Enbridge pipeline explosion cools asphalt operations in Chilliwack

Asphalt plants across the Lower Mainland told to limit production

Chilliwack Chiefs score late to beat Vernon Vipers

Matt Holmes netted the winner with 20.5 seconds on the clock as the Chiefs rallied for a 3-2 win.

Ingenious Vedder Bridge project snags design-build award

Innovative engineering approach used to launch new bridge and demolish old one

VIDEO: Trust issue between Chilliwack council members took centre stage at Mayoral Debate

Comments from incumbent mayor about councillor earned applause, whistles, heckling and boos

Ask the Coach: Brian Maloney talks about managing a locker room

Ask the Coach is a bi-weekly feature with Chilliwack Chiefs head coach Brian Maloney.

Secret supper clubs test appetite for cannabis-infused food ahead of legalization

Chefs are eagerly awaiting pot edibles to become legal in Canada

Joint inspection planned for missing journalist at Saudi Consulate

Turkish officials have said they fear a Saudi hit team killed and dismembered Washington Potst reporter Jamal Khashoggi

Sears files for bankruptcy amid plunging sales, massive debt

The company started as a mail order catalogue in the 1880s

BREAKING: Prince Harry and Meghan expecting their 1st child in spring

The announcement of the pregnancy confirms weeks of speculation from royal watchers

Students unhappy with SFU’s response after violent incident in class

Professor, students say a man threw chairs and hit a female student

Enbridge to begin building road to access pipeline explosion site in B.C.

An explosion Tuesday knocked out a 91-centimetre line

Man struck by car in Burnaby: reports

Pedestrian was taken to hospital

Andrew Scheer on revamped NAFTA deal: ‘I would have signed a better one’

Conservative leader says he wouldn’t have signed USMCA

Matheson will have NHL hearing after Canucks rookie Pettersson hit

The 19-year-old Swedish centre appeared woozy after the hit

Most Read