Two of the 230 people who call Surrey streets their home.

Two of the 230 people who call Surrey streets their home.

Surrey hunting for homeless shelter site

There are almost 400 homeless in Surrey, more than half of which have no shelter whatsoever

Topping the region with the most unsheltered homeless, Surrey is looking for somewhere to locate a 40-bed cold and wet weather facility.

It’s needed for this winter, because the Surrey Urban Mission, which usually houses people for extreme weather, is in the middle of a move and can’t provide the service this winter.

So BC Housing has offered to provide the city with operational funding for a 40-bed shelter over the cold months.

Coun. Judy Villeneuve, a vocal advocate for the homeless, said Tuesday she’s pleased to see a temporary replacement in the works.

Hopefully a site can be found by November allowing the beds to be available for the Extreme Weather Shelter program.

The new spot would require 1,600 square feet of space and would be located near high homeless populations (Whalley, Newton or Cloverdale) and would along a major transit route.

It would be open 24/7, from Nov. 1 to March 31 and would provide clients two to three meals per day.

Villeneuve describes it as a move in the right direction to address a much bigger problem.

This city has a significant shortage of shelter beds.

Surrey has 85 permanent shelter beds, with a further 94 available for women at risk.

There are 388 homeless people in this city.

A homeless count conducted last year found there were 230 unsheltered people in Surrey, representing 58 per cent of the total number of homeless.

The figure far exceeds the 10 per cent of homeless in Vancouver that were unsheltered.

The bulk of unsheltered homeless were found in Whalley, as well as Newton and Cloverdale.

Villeneuve said that it’s likely the temporary extreme weather shelter would be located in one of those communities.

First, the city is seeking a private partner who can provide the space.

In the meantime, the city is working with BC Housing on a Master Plan for Housing the Homeless in Surrey, which will provide a strategic direction for housing in this city.

It is expected to be completed some time this fall.

Villeneuve said the shelters not only provide warmth, but a place where outreach workers can make contact with the entrenched homeless, and possibly find them some sort of housing.

@diakiw