Homeless count sheds light on Chilliwack needs

Volunteers were busy conducting the 24-hour Homeless Count on Tuesday and Wednesday across Chilliwack.

Kim Lloyd (left) of Pacific Community Resources Society shows volunteers Leah Froese of Abbotsford's Cyrus Centre (right) and Penny Robinson how to fill out forms for the 2014 Homeless Count. The two were some of about 15 volunteers helping out on Wednesday.

Kim Lloyd (left) of Pacific Community Resources Society shows volunteers Leah Froese of Abbotsford's Cyrus Centre (right) and Penny Robinson how to fill out forms for the 2014 Homeless Count. The two were some of about 15 volunteers helping out on Wednesday.

The chips, granola bars and fresh fruit were given out freely.

Volunteers were busy conducting the 24-hour Homeless Count on Tuesday and Wednesday across Chilliwack.

The snacks and water were like a friendly way to broach the topic of the survey. They were definitely more of an introduction than a bribe, explained Steve Esau, manager/counsellor at Chilliwack Addictions.

“If they felt like filling out a survey — great!” he said.

Esau was one of about 20 trained volunteers in the Homeless Count 2014 who fanned out across Chilliwack on March 11-12, talking confidentially and with respect to street people, about their housing situations and much more.

The region-wide count is held every three years, and has been ongoing in communities across Metro Vancouver, Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley.

It provides a snapshot of the community homelessness situation, rather than an exhaustive study.

“The survey helps us understand what is needed in our community in terms of services,” Esau said.

They get feedback on which resources and services are being accessed in Chilliwack, and which ones are most useful, and which may not be viewed as helpful by those they’re designed to serve.

“We can speculate all we want, but the true voices we need to hear are from those actually going through it. This an opportunity for us to hear those voices,” said Esau.

The results are compiled by FVRD officials while MCC officials in Abbotsford coordinate the planning. The 2014 count was completed with the help of about 100 volunteers across the Fraser Valley region, with about 20 per community, or fewer in smaller towns.

Many of the people who volunteer for the count are individuals who already work for social service agencies and local non-profits who serve the target population of the survey, which include homeless or street-entrenched populations.

“It’s a good mix of people who step forward to help,” said Ron van Wyk, associate executive director of MCC BC in Abbotsford. They used the same approach that they’ve always used.

“We call it a survey,” said van Wyk. “Because it’s more than a count.”

They do compile numbers on how many individuals self-identify as homeless, but they also seek to understand the reasons why they are without safe accommodations, as well as details like where they come from and how old they are.

“We find out what are the barriers they have to finding their own accommodations, and what medical conditions or health issues they may be dealing with,” he said.

In 2008 they counted 98 people in Chilliwack, and the number of homeless went up to 110 at the last count in 2011.

Over the past decade there has been a noticeable boost in supportive housing facilities in Chilliwack, specifically for those with mental health, addictions, and other barriers, van Wyk said. From the Legacy facility on School Street, to Ruth & Naomi’s Mission, to the Health and Housing Contact Centre on Young Road, there are more housing options and shelter beds in Chilliwack than ever.

“They all came about partly as a result of this work,” he stated. “The count contributes to a better understanding of the phenomena of homelessness in our communities and the need for services, and on-ramps into permanent supportive housing.”

It’s valuable to service-providers and others who need to quantify the issues.

“It also creates greater awareness and understanding at the political level, of the services needed, that will become possible over time,” he added.

Information from previous counts is at www.stophomelessness.ca.

Preliminary results from the 2014 Homeless Count could be ready by late April, with final results by July.

Just Posted

PlanCultus was adopted in 2017 as a guiding document for Cultus Lake Park. (Cultus Lake Park Board)
More affordable housing options could be coming to Cultus Lake Park

Online survey opened on June 14 to gauge opinion on plaza redevelopment eyed for Village Centre

The Abbotsford International Airshow is back for 2021 with the ‘SkyDrive’ concept.
Abbotsford International Airshow returns for 2021 with ‘SkyDrive’

New format features a drive-in movie type experience, show set for Aug. 6 to 8

A young couple walks through the Othello Tunnels just outside of Hope. (Jessica Peters/Black Press)
Hope’s Othello Tunnels fully open to the public

Geological testing proved the area safe enough to open for the first time in more than a year

Raeya Evie Duncan was the 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital for the month of May. She is seen here with her parents Alysha Williams and Andrew Duncan on June 12, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Baby boom in Chilliwack as record number of infants born at CGH in May

‘COVID babies are coming out,’ says dad of 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital last month

Syringes prepared with Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site in Long Beach, Calif., Friday, March 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Walk-ins welcome at upcoming G.W. Secondary vaccine clinic

Second consecutive Saturday Fraser Health has scheduled a same-day clinic in a Chilliwack school

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
VIDEO: Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens as Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents the province’s latest budget, April 20, 2021. The budget projects $19 billion in deficits over three years. (Hansard TV)
B.C. government budget balloons, beyond COVID-19 response

Provincial payroll up 104,000 positions, $10 billion since 2017

Ocean debris is shown on Long Beach in Tofino, B.C. on April, 18, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Doctor David Vallejo and his fiancee Doctor Mavelin Bonilla hold photos of themselves working, as they kiss at their home in Quito, Ecuador, Wednesday, June 9, 2021. Doctor Vallejo and Doctor Bonilla suspended their wedding in order to tend to COVID-19 patients and in the process Vallejo got sick himself with the disease, ending up in an ICU for several days. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)
Love, sacrifice and surviving COVID-19: one couple’s story

COVID hits Ecuadorian doctors who delayed wedding to treat sick

Cover of the 32-page Surrey First Peoples Guide for Newcomers, created and compiled by Jeska Slater.
New ‘Surrey First Peoples Guide for Newcomers’ seeks to ‘uplift and amplify’ voices

32-page guide launched Tuesday by Surrey Local Immigration Partnership (LIP)

West Coast Duty Free president Gary Holowaychuk stands next to empty shelves inside his store on Tuesday (June 15). (Aaron Hinks photo)
Revenue down 97% at Surrey duty free as owner waits for U.S. border to reopen

Products approaching best before dates had to be donated, others destroyed

St. Joseph's Mission site is located about six kilometres from Williams Lake First Nation. (Photo submitted)
Williams Lake First Nation to search residential school site for unmarked graves

St. Joseph’s Mission Indian Residential School operated from 1886 to 1981

Most Read