2014 Fraser Valley Homelessness Count

May 13, 2014

Is homelessness increasing or decreasing? On March 11 and 12 volunteer researchers set out to look for the answer on streets and in by-ways throughout the Fraser Valley.

Teams of volunteers conducted a formal count of homeless people in the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD). The survey was coordinated alongside a similar process taking place at the same time in the Metro Vancouver region.

“We are extremely grateful to the dedicated volunteers in the Fraser Valley who worked on this project. Getting accurate information for the survey is important, but the volunteers take the count to another level, interacting with a vulnerable population in a positive and sensitive way,” said Sharon Gaetz, FVRD Board Chair.

The results are a moment-in-time "snapshot" of homelessness throughout the Fraser Valley, from Boston Bar to Abbotsford and, when combined with Metro Vancouver’s count, west through the Lower Mainland to Bowen Island.

Preliminary findings of the 2014 count show that change at the Regional level has been flat, with 346 persons being counted. Changes in the number of homeless have not been uniform across the region, with the City of Abbotsford and District of Mission seeing increases and the City of Chilliwack a decrease. The results are still well below a similar survey in 2008 which identified 465 people in Fraser Valley shelters, soup kitchens, service centres and doorways. Further analysis of the data over the next few months will provide a more complete picture of homelessness in the FVRD.

Said Gaetz, ““Although we are making progress, the data shows that there is still more work to be done. I encourage all the communities within the FVRD to continue to work with community partners, both government and non-government, to find innovative ways to reduce homelessness in the Fraser Valley.”

Since 2008, local governments, service agencies, government ministries and volunteer groups have been working to reduce the number of people stranded on the streets. Local initiatives include housing outreach assistance, street nurses, improved shelter programs, and housing linked to supportive services. The result of this latest survey will provide an indication of the short and long-term impact these initiatives have had on reducing homelessness in the region.

The survey is sponsored by the FVRD. The Mennonite Central Committee of BC is managing overall co-ordination, volunteer training, data capturing, statistical analysis and reporting. Other partners include the Salvation Army, Cyrus Centre, Women's Resource Society of the Fraser Valley, Mission Friendship Centre, Pacific Community Resources Society, 5 and 2 Ministries, Hope and Area Transition Society, Agassiz-Harrison Community Services, Fraser-Cascade School District 78, Mission Community Services, Chilliwack Community Services, Fraser Health, and local municipal governments, community service agencies, and others.