Chilliwack, BC – Earlier this year the Fraser Valley Regional District released their 2014 Homeless Survey, which detailed that the number of homeless people in Chilliwack decreased by 34% since 2011, from 111 to 73 individuals. Studies conducted in 2004, 2008 and 2011, demonstrated that the multiple programs available for shelter, subsidized and supportive housing are making a difference in our community.
In order to build on this positive momentum, the City of Chilliwack will initiate the creation of a Chilliwack homeless action plan. This plan will start by identifying all known causes of homelessness and seek to formulate strategies that would address each cause. The plan will also address individuals that appear to have become entrenched and refuse to seek assistance through the many social service organizations already serving the community.
“Although this responsibility rests with the Provincial government, we want to be proactive in formalizing plans that will help house people in Chilliwack,” said Mayor Sharon Gaetz. “Having a formal strategy will be helpful when approaching senior levels of government for funding and in identifying possible cost sharing opportunities.”
Homelessness is not unique to Chilliwack. There are many causes of homelessness, and to fully address those issues, the City recognizes that a comprehensive province-wide strategy will be required.
“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.”
“We hope this task force will not only address health and wellness concerns related to homelessness in Chilliwack, but also that it will help better utilize public safety resources while ensuring all residents feel safe in our community,” said Councillor Sue Attrill, Chair of Chilliwack’s Public Safety Advisory Committee.
“We are proud to have such a compassionate and caring community here in Chilliwack,” said Councillor Ken Popove, who represents Council as 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. These groups are making a significant difference and need your support to encourage people to seek shelter and treatment options.”
The task force will include staff from the City of Chilliwack, and representatives from Chilliwack Healthier Communities, the RCMP, Pacific Community Resources Centre, Ruth and Naomi’s Mission and the Salvation Army.