Our View: No easy fixes for homeless

Go back in time 15 or 20 years, and tell a Langley resident that homelessness would be a major, local problem.

They probably wouldn’t believe you.

Even as Langley’s population expanded fast in the 1980s and 1990s, homelessness was something that, for the most part, happened somewhere else. The streets of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, perhaps.

But starting early in the new millennium, homelessness began growing across Metro Vancouver, and Langley proved not to be immune.

This week, Metro Vancouver’s Regional Homelessness Task Force estimated there are 4,000 people without homes in the region, with 70 camps, including several in Langley.

Langley has not stood idle. The Gateway of Hope shelter and local governments have worked with police and social service agencies. Efforts have been expended to get people into permanent housing.

But it hasn’t been enough.

A combination of factors – Metro Vancouver identifies gaps in social services and the skyrocketing cost of housing – have ended the opportunity to deal with the problem through prevention.

Metro Vancouver’s task force is calling for 1,000 units of transitional housing to be built for each of the next three years.

Fort Langley-Aldergrove MLA Rich Coleman’s statement emphasizes what other partners, like cities, can do for the issue.

Housing minister Coleman is right that cooperation is needed. Metro Vancouver, communities, Victoria and Ottawa all need to come together, and not just in planning, but in funding.

B.C. has advanced economically, but at the expense of an ever-increasing number of people who have fallen through the cracks.

– M.C.