The number of homeless people in Mission has decreased, according to the preliminary results of a 2017 survey, presented to board of directors of the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD).
According to the report, there were 63 homeless people in Mission on March 8, 2017, down from the 75 homeless reported in 2014. In 2011, the survey counted 54 homeless in Mission compared to 100 in 2008.
While the numbers have dropped in Mission and Agassiz-Harrison – and the number in Boston Bar increased marginally – the remainder of the Fraser Valley has seen increases.
There are 603 homeless individuals in the Fraser Valley. This number is a significant increase from 2014, when the count revealed 346 homeless individuals throughout the region living in shelters, transition houses, service centres and outside.
The Homeless Count is conducted every three years and provides a moment-in-time snapshot of homelessness. On March 8 over a 24-hour period, more than 140 agency staff and volunteers fanned out across the region and conducted one-on-one interviews with people living on the streets and in by-ways.
“This information is extremely valuable,” said FVRD board chair Jason Lum. “Using this data, service providers and all levels of government will be better positioned to address the challenge of homelessness in our communities.”
Preliminary findings of the 2017 count show increases in Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Hope. In 2014, there were 151 homeless individuals in Abbotsford, 73 in Chilliwack, and 22 in Hope. Abbotsford has increased by 79 per cent, up to 271; Chilliwack has experienced an increase of 203 per cent, up to 221; and Hope’s numbers have increased by 64 per cent, to 36.
“Despite steps taken by municipalities in partnership with local service providers and the provincial and federal governments to provide more services and housing, communities still face significant challenges to arrest the increase in the number of people living homeless.
“Concerted efforts to continue this work, including prevention of homelessness, must continue,” said Dr. Ron van Wyk, executive director of MCC Community Enterprises, which oversaw the count.
The 2017 homeless count confirms earlier anecdotal reports suggesting a significant increase in the number of homeless people in the Fraser Valley.