Award winners and grant recipients at Surrey Homelessness and Housing Society’s event at Surrey Arts Centre on Tuesday (Oct. 8). (photo: twitter.com)

Award winners and grant recipients at Surrey Homelessness and Housing Society’s event at Surrey Arts Centre on Tuesday (Oct. 8). (photo: twitter.com)

‘Now-Leader’ reporter among award winners who ‘support the homeless and at risk’ in Surrey

Event timed with Homelessness Action Week

Surrey Now-Leader reporter Amy Reid was among award winners during an event to recognize “community members working tirelessly to support the homeless and at risk” in Surrey on Tuesday, Oct. 8.

Surrey Homelessness and Housing Society hosted its 2019 Grant Recipients and Community Leaders event at Surrey Arts Centre’s Studio Theatre.

Community Leader awards were given to Reid for her work as a multimedia journalist, along with Surrey Libraries, Tabitha Naismith (ACORN Canada), Mike Musgrove (Surrey Urban Mission) and, for providing extreme-weather response shelter space over the winter, the churches of Pacific Community, Peninsula United and Star of the Sea.

Also recognized were Vera LeFranc for her 10 years of service to the society as staff and “ongoing support of Surrey’s most vulnerable,” and B&B Contracting for donations totalling $100,000 over five years, plus another $100,000 commitment.

• RELATED STORY: ‘We’re not prepared’: Concern over lack of extreme weather shelter space in Newton.

City councillor Brenda Locke, board chair of Surrey Homelessness and Housing Society, said the annual event is held “to celebrate the work that’s done every day by the caring and hard-working professionals in our community to help move people from street to home.”

Timed with Homelessness Action Week (Oct. 13-19), the awards event also highlighted the work of the organization and its key projects and initiatives this year.

In 2018, the society granted approximately $1.5 million to its community partners.

For 2019, five grants worth $250,000 were announced, along with one “responsive grant” for $8,000.

Six Surrey non-profits will receive funding through the society’s annual call for proposals. They are Phoenix Drug and Alcohol Recovery and Education Society ($100,000 for their STAR Recovery Program), Fraser Region Aboriginal Friendship Centre Association ($79,034 for their All Nations Evictions Specialist), Aunt Leah’s Place ($25,966 for Supportive Suites for Youth in Care), Pacific Community Resources Society ($25,000 for the renovation of Guildford House), Vancity Community Foundation on behalf of Home Front ($20,000 for Making Homelessness Rare, Brief and One-Time) and Realistic Success Recovery Society ($8,000 for repairs to Trilogy House One).

Locke noted that from 2014 to 2017, the Metro Vancouver Homeless Count reported that the number of people experiencing homelessness in Surrey grew by 49 per cent.

“This staggering increase reminds us why the work of the Surrey Homelessness and Housing Society and the homeless-serving organizations in this room tonight is so important,” she said. “Surrey is a unique city, and together, we will continue to support the development of ‘Made in Surrey’ solutions that are designed to respond to the challenges faced by the vulnerable people of Surrey.”

The society also highlighted its latest campaign to tackle stigmas facing homeless individuals, or the “hidden homeless.”

Specifically, this year’s campaign highlights the people who “fall through the cracks” that are precariously housed, including vulnerable youth, children, seniors and adults who are couch-surfing or staying with friends.

The 2018 Youth Homeless Count in Metro Vancouver identified more than 100 homeless youth and children living in Surrey.

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