The new Langley Youth Resource Centre was built, and will include a youth homeless shelter. (Langley Advance files)

Top Five of 2017: Homelessness doubled while solutions were controversial

The number of Langley residents without a roof over their heads increased.

The homelessness crisis intensified in Langley in 2017, and one proposed solution sparked more controversy.

At Metro Vancouver Homeless Count data was released in the spring, showing that the number of people living on the streets of Langley had more than doubled in three years.

There were 206 people counted in 2017, a 124 per cent increase from 2014.

In March, Langley MLA Mary Polak announced that funding from Fraser Health and BC Housing would be used to create an Intensive Case Management Team, a dedicated unit that would try to help those on the street, and those in danger of losing their homes.

The ICM was to have a “housing first” strategy, getting people into stable shelter and then finding them long-term housing and dealing with other issues.

Another “housing first” project sparked concerns in the fall.

BC Housing announced that it wanted to create 49 units of housing in the former Quality Inn in the 6500 block of 200th Street.

At an open house on the project, several hundred people gathered.

While some were in favour – “It’s about bloody time,” said one speaker – more were opposed.

“I’m worried it will cause severe problems for our safety,” one resident said.

Opponents lambasted the project for being in the wrong area, and cited its proximity to stores, houses, and elementary schools.

Another project moved ahead smoothly, as the new Langley Youth Resources Centre – which will include a small youth homeless shelter – was built in the Willowbrook area.

In December, the existing adult homeless shelter, the Gateway of Hope, began running low on space.

Including regular and Extreme Weather Response spaces, the shelter can accommodate 45 people overnight. But for a few cold nights, the shelter had to turn a few people away. Those who couldn’t come in were offered bus tickets to get to shelters in other communities, but not all took them.

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