Numbers on Langley homelessness released


The number of people sleeping on the streets of the Lower Mainland was up sharply in the latest Metro Vancouver Homeless Count.

Results from the 2014 count, which is conducted every three years, showed that overall numbers had increased from 2,650 homeless to 2,770.

However, Langley and many of its neighbours actually saw a small decline in the number of homeless people compared to the 2011 count. Most of the increase was centered in Vancouver itself, which also had the largest number of homeless by a wide margin.

Langley’s 2014 count saw volunteers locate 92 homeless people, of whom 38 were in a shelter of some kind.

That’s slightly down from the high of 2011, when there were 103 homeless people located in the Langleys. Langley had seen steadily increasing numbers in the previous years, from 57 homeless in 2005 to 86 in 2008.

This marks Langley’s first actual decline since the counting began.

“It shows that there is good work being done,” said Fraser Holland, a homelessness outreach worker in Langley.

However, he noted that local social workers have already met up with several people who noted that they were not counted. Any snapshot count like this one will miss people and err on the low side, he said.

Another issue is that Langley, though not a large community, bears a higher proportion of homeless residents than many other communities.

“Langley Still has the fifth highest number in the region,” said Holland.

Burnaby, Ridge Meadows, New Westminster, the North Shore, and Richmond also saw slight declines in the number of people without a permanent home. Other communities like the Tri-Cities and Surrey saw slight increases.

Meanwhile, Vancouver’s numbers shot up, from 1,581 people counted in 2011 to 1,798 this year.

The proportion of people without shelter in Langley and across the region increased this year compared to 2011.

Region-wide, there 1ere 957 homeless without any shelter at all. In Langley, 54 people were unsheltered.

There has been a slight increase in the percentage of teens and young adults who are on the streets. A total of 410 people under 25 were counted in 2014, a three per cent increase.

The number of seniors, however, went up sharply.

A total of 371 people 55 and older were counted, up 38 per cent from 2011 when 268 seniors were counted.

Holland had previously told the Langley Advance that during the early-March counting process, local volunteers noticed more elderly homeless than in years past.

He hopes that numbers backing up the observation will help encourage more action on this front.

Langley’s homelessness is addressed by many groups, Holland noted, including churches, the Salvation Army, Ishtar Transitional Housing Society, and programs through Aldergrove Neighbourhood Services Society.

Despite any decline in the total numbers, there remains a lot to do, he said.

“We’re still extremely busy,” said Holland.

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