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Chilliwack sees rise in homeless numbers

Chilliwack has a few more homeless people than it did a few years ago according to a recent survey.

Results of the FVRD Homeless Count 2011 show a total of 111 people in Chilliwack told volunteers they were living on the streets — up from the 98 counted in the 2008.

Those statistics buck the downward trend seen this year in Abbotsford and Mission, where significant reductions in the numbers of homeless were noted.

Abbotsford went from 235 to 117, while Mission went from 100 homeless to 54 who answered the survey.

The preliminary results are part of a statistical snapshot of homelessness counted by volunteers who headed out into the streets, soup kitchens and shelters on March 15-16, ranging from Boston Bar to Abbotsford.

Overall the homeless population in the Fraser Valley went from 465 in 2008 to 345 in 2011. This represents a 25 per cent reduction, but this trend was not consistent across the region.

Smaller communities like Agassiz-Harrison saw increases, going from 12 to 20 street people, and Hope went from 20 to 43 homeless.

“Homelessness has been a concern in the FVRD for a number of years," said FVRD chair Patricia Ross. "To be able to track change over time is critical to all our communities, regardless of size, and shows that homelessness is not just a metropolitan core issue. While the numbers show improvement, they also demonstrate that smaller communities need the attention of senior levels of government to address this continuing challenge.”

Since the last count, many groups and agencies have been working to reduce the number of people stranded on the streets. Local initiatives include housing outreach assistance, street nurses, improved shelter programs, and housing linked to supportive services.

 

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