When I ran for Langley City Council last fall, one of the things that I heard from many residents in the community was that they were concerned about the increase in people who are homeless in Langley, especially in Downtown Langley.
|Total counted people who are homeless in the Langleys, 2014|
Shockingly, the amount of people who are homeless in Langley has increased from under 25 people in 2002, to around 100 people in 2014. 15% of people who are homeless are also Aboriginal. 16% of people are children and youth, and 15% of people are seniors. Homelessness impacts other vulnerable groups of people including people who are queer, people with disabilities, people with addictions, people with mental health issues, and new immigrants.
Last fall, Langley City launched the Langley Homelessness Task Force. The primary outcome of the task force will be to deliver a Homelessness Strategic Plan that will outline strategies and solutions to address and prevent homelessness in Langley. The draft document is currently scheduled to be released this year.
While having a strategic plan is great, implementing the action items in the plan is the only way that it will succeed. Back in 2008, the Langley Action Plan on Addressing Homelessness was released. It included 12 actionable items. I will outline the items, and what concrete progress has been made on them to date.
- There is a need for an adult drop-in centre. Status: United Churches of Langley offers 200th Street Drop-in
- There is a need for low-barrier supported housing for individuals with complex needs, such as those with mental health and/or addictions concerns, and especially those with concurrent disorders diagnosis. Status: No concrete progress
- There is a need for affordable sustainable housing. Status: No concrete progress
- There is a need for proactive prevention services for those at-risk of homeless Status: No concrete progress
- There is a need for more transportation options to enable the homeless to access services. Status: No concrete progress
- There is a need for a coordinating entity for resources to the homeless and for those at-risk of homelessness. Status: No concrete progress
- There is a need for a youth safe house. Status: No concrete progress
- There is a need for daytox services in Langley. Status: Outpatient service delivered by Fraser Health.
- There is a need for residential long-term support recovery housing for those who having completed alcohol/drug rehabilitation. Status: Some services are offered at Wagner Hills for men, and Campbell Valley House of Hope for women.
- There is a need for accommodation for clients with mental health issues and/or addiction who are waiting to access residential programs. Status: No concrete progress
- There is a need for outreach workers for youth and women trading sex for shelter. Status: 2 FTE homeless outreach workers provided by Stepping Stones (funded by BC Housing).
- There is a need for an integrated case management system for the homeless. Status: No concrete progress
I look forward to the recommendations coming out of the Langley Homelessness Task Force later this year. Looking at the list of items identified in the 2008 plan, and seeing that most of the items where not actioned, it seems to me that the challenge is around funding. The support of the provincial and federal governments will be critical for any action plan or strategic plan to succeed. The City of Langley on its own will not be able to address these complex issues.