Province bringing housing to Surrey for people in need

Selina Robinson

PEOPLE who are homeless, including those camping along 135A Street in Surrey, will soon have access to safe and supportive housing.

The British Columbia government and the City of Surrey have announced plans for three temporary modular-housing projects.

“It is critical that we move quickly to provide housing and support services for people who have been living on the streets and in unsafe conditions for far too long,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “Our new modular program is a swift and effective housing solution that will help people struggling with homelessness.”

Scheduled to be fully operational in early spring, the approximately 160 supportive housing units will include individual rooms with private bathrooms, meal service, counselling and medical offices, 24/7 staffing and life and employment skills programming.

These units will provide an emergency solution to meet the urgent need of people experiencing homelessness. This housing will be replaced by 250 units of permanent affordable housing, once additional sites have been identified and the additional modular homes with support services have been built.

“Today’s announcement addresses all aspects of our comprehensive Rapid Response Housing Plan for Surrey,” said Linda Hepner, Mayor of Surrey. “The approximately 160 transitional units coming online will provide important housing solutions and begin to address the urgent need for housing and supports for street-entrenched homeless people.”

The Province is allocating approximately $13 million in capital funding and more than $1 million in operating funding for the short-term housing that will be located at three sites, including 10662 King George Boulevard and 13550-105th Avenue. The third site will be confirmed at a later date.

The temporary housing will be repurposed modular housing, which will allow BC Housing to expedite the delivery and installation of the units.

The city, in partnership with BC Housing, will hold a public information session on Tuesday, January 23 to answer questions and address any concerns.

The new homes will be operated by Lookout Housing and Health Society.

“We are excited to operate this new transitional accommodation and provide support to some of the most vulnerable individuals in Surrey,” said Shayne Williams, Executive Director, Lookout Housing and Health Society. “This minimal-barrier accommodation has been so badly needed to help individuals stabilize and get connected to services they need. We thank the Province, the City of Surrey and Fraser Health for their leadership in making this new transitional accommodation possible.”

To assist people with severe substance disorders who are homeless in the community, Fraser Health, in partnership with Lookout Housing and Health Society and BC Housing, will operate an intensive case management (ICM) team out of one of the modular-housing sites.

Following a ‘Housing First’ philosophy that supports people who are homeless to obtain and maintain housing, the ICM team will assist people who may be facing significant challenges with health, substance use, mental health, poverty, education and housing by connecting them to support services and treatment.

“Our aim is to support people struggling with severe substance-related disorders to integrate back into the community,” said Dr. Victoria Lee, Fraser Health Vice President for Population health. “We’ve seen improvements in ICM patients’ quality of life and overall health status by connecting them with housing, harm-reduction services and health-care practitioners for ongoing treatment and support.

“Connecting to the broader social and community supports is integral to the success of these teams. Managing day-to-day activities, such as banking and grocery shopping, is often taken for granted, but they are important steps in successfully regaining their independence in the community.”

Using a team-based approach with clinicians, nurses and community-support workers, the ICM team will provide comprehensive assessments for people, and help them access treatment and rehabilitation services.