B.C. has to find solution for homelessness in rural areas, says regional district chair

The challenges of homelessness in rural British Columbia require careful study by the province to avoid a “one size fits all” approach.

That was the thinking of FVRD Chairman Jason Lum at the UBCM Housing Summit last week, after announcing a new $12 billion housing program with new regional response teams to quickly help those experiencing homelessness secure housing.

There are more than a dozen entrenched encampments in one FVRD constituency alone, and the problem has spread to other rural areas in the Chilliwack and Fraser Valleys, he said.

“This is especially important for smaller constituencies in terms of cost,” Lum said.

together with $12 billion “People’s Homeland” Action Plan In an effort to provide more housing faster, the provincial government also recently unveiled the Belonging to BC plan to prevent and reduce homelessness by adding 3,900 new supportive housing units and 240 integrated care spaces across BC return phenomenon

Belonging to BC features new Multidisciplinary Regional Response Teams aimed at dismantling encampments and better supporting homeless people moving into places with more housing options.

In terms of solutions, and what FVRD wants from the province, “the most important thing is to make sure it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution,” Lum said.

Over the years, most cleanups at homeless encampments have been done by volunteers. Last month, the province announced a $200,000 allocation to clean up abandoned camps in the Chilliwack River Valley.

Lim said rural communities and local constituencies are simply not equipped to deal with homelessness.

“We hear a lot about the challenges of homelessness in metropolitan areas,” he said.

“But I think the discussion that’s kind of falling through the cracks is the discussion around what’s happening in rural areas, electoral districts.”

BC’s new rapid response teams are mimicking the work they do on the ground in major urban centers like Victoria and Seattle.

“What I’d like to see is a commitment to working with rural areas,” Lum added.

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Fraser ValleyFraser Valley Regional DistrictHomeless HousingHousing and Homeless Provincial Government

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