EVICTION notices were issued Tuesday morning to the occupants of Surrey’s own ‘tent city’ on 135A Street in Whalley. A tent city in Surrey is confirmation that the City of Surrey has failed to implement effective solutions for the homeless. Local residents and businesses, including the landlord on which the current tent city sits, continue to pay the price for the City’s lack of vision and action, said former MLA Brenda Locke of TeamSurrey.
“Debates about the homeless in Surrey need to stop. Action needs to start. Instead, the current council boasts that Surrey’s homeless count has not gone up. But the groups closest to the streets and with the best knowledge of the problem estimate the actual numbers of homeless at two-to-three times the City’s count of 400,” said Locke.
“Immediately the Surrey Urban Mission, located within sight of the current tent city, needs to be funded by BC Housing to give the people currently living in tents a place to go. And City Hall needs to help make that happen. It needs to happen now – without excuses.
“Survival for the homeless who struggle with mental illness, addictions, disabilities and socio-economic issues means finding the next meal or keeping warm and dry for just one night. The Cold Wet Weather Strategy doesn’t begin until November 1 and only when temperatures drop below 0. But people are cold, wet, hungry and helpless right now.
“Tonight there will be people sleeping on the streets in Whalley and elsewhere in our city. The fact that governments don’t want to fund the Surrey Urban Mission removes hope from those who already lack food and shelter. Homeless prevention programs that fail to address the needs of those with mental illness and addictions also fail to alleviate the problem of homelessness in Surrey.
“But homelessness isn’t a new problem. And it affects all of us. It affects local businesses that are tasked with the daily chore of cleaning the messes caused by homeless people sleeping in their doorways. It affects landlords who have people squatting on their land. And it affects every Surrey resident who cares about those less fortunate than themselves.”
Locke said: “The current City Council reminds me of Nero – only fiddling while Rome is burning. Homelessness is Surrey’s burning issue and the time has long passed for our city government to start putting this fire out.”
TeamSurrey candidate Stephen Gammer added: “The fact is, Surrey needs new and effective solutions for our homeless. The status quo isn’t working – and never has.”