News / Vancouver

Metro Vancouver announces regional homelessness task force

A regional task force, chaired by mayors of Vancouver and Maple Ridge, hopes to address increased tent cities and homelessness in Metro Vancouver.

Pedestrians walk beside homeless people on Granville St. in downtown Vancouver, on Wednesday March 13, 2013.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Eric Dreger

Pedestrians walk beside homeless people on Granville St. in downtown Vancouver, on Wednesday March 13, 2013.

With tent cities becoming more prevalent throughout Metro Vancouver, the regional district has established a new task force to tackle rising homelessness.

Chaired by Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Maple Ridge Mayor Nicole Read, the new group will focus on lobbying the provincial government early next year to deliver more shelter and housing for people across the region.

First, the group will get municipalities working together to collect region-wide statistics on the number of homeless people in Metro Vancouver, shelter use, tent cities and how many shelter and interim housing spaces are needed to get people off the streets.

Over the last year, tent cities in Vancouver, Abbotsford and Maple Ridge raised new awareness of homelessness throughout the Lower Mainland.

The City of Vancouver’s 2016 homeless count identified a record number of people living on the streets or in shelters: 1,847 people, up six per cent from 2015.

The last region-wide count in 2014 identified 2,777 homeless people, up four per cent from 2008.

“We have to find a way to work collaboratively to get these people into proper homes,” said Read in a statement Wednesday. “Given the urgency of the situation and the dire need for a co-ordinated regional approach, the inaugural meeting of the new Regional Homelessness Task Force will be convened next week.”

The task force includes six mayors, seven chief administrative officers for various municipalities with the support of staff from all Metro Vancouver municipalities, BC Housing, the province and social service agencies to gather the necessary data.

The first set of recommendations are expected to be ready by spring 2017.

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