British Columbia

New winter shelter in Surrey B.C. funded by province

The provincial government has announced $400,000 in funding for a new temporary winter shelter in Surrey B.C.

Housing minister also promises more money for other extreme weather housing

B.C. Minister Responsible for Housing, Rich Coleman (centre), announced funding Tuesday for a new emergency winter shelter in Surrey B.C. He was joined by NDP MLA Bruce Ralston (left) and Minister of Innovation and Citizens Services, Amrik Virk (right). (Stephanie Mercier/CBC)

The provincial government has announced $400,000 in funding for a new temporary winter shelter in Surrey B.C. just as a recently released report is criticizing it for not doing enough to help the city house its vulnerable population.

The new money will go to the Lookout Emergency Aid Society, which will run the 40-bed facility at the Dell Hotel in Surrey's Whalley neighbourhood.

It will be open at all hours of the day, seven days a week, from November 2015 until March 2016.

B.C.'s Minister Responsible for Housing, Rich Coleman, made the announcement Tuesday morning saying more funding is alo coming for other extreme weather response shelters needed between November and April.

"Opening additional shelters during the winter is a critical step in addressing homelessness in this province," he said in a release. "We have to ensure B.C.'s most vulnerable people have safe shelter when they need it most."

Fresh start

Coleman also said that getting vulnerable people into shelters is often an important step in providing more support services and eventually permanent housing.

"A shelter can be a fresh start for people," said Coleman during the announcement, adding that in the past five years, 6,000 fewer people are living on the streets in B.C.

In its 2015 housing report, the Downtown Surrey BIA says 403 people have identified as homeless in the municipality and that number has remained constant for the past decade. Vancouver's has 1,803 reported homeless.

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The report claims Surrey has received "substantially less support from BC Housing" in investments for the building of units and financing their operation.

It says that of the $395 million BC Housing spent in Metro Vancouver for 2014-2015, $230 million went to Vancouver while only $47.5 million went to Surrey.

The supportive or transitional housing that is currently available, says the report, is operating at full-capacity.

Coleman's announcement was made during Homlessness Action Week in B.C.

with files from the CBC's Stephanie Mercier

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