The groundbreaking for a youth homeless shelter and resource centre was held Tuesday – and the building will be complete within months.
The Langley Youth Resource Centre is set to be built in the 20200 block of 62nd Avenue, not far from the Township Civic Facility.
The centre will feature five youth beds and a Youth Hub, including a gathering place for teenagers, access to food, shelter, medical services, counselling, and other resources.
It will also be finished very soon, thanks to a modular design.
“Kids this wintr will have a comfortable place to go to escape the weather,” said Loren Roberts of Encompass Support Services Society.
The building was initially designed by Britco, with final designs and building done by Aldergrove’s Shelter Industries.
Work starts this week on preparing the foundation – done for free by the Acts of Kindness program through Langley’s Seventh Day Adventist Church, noted Roberts.
Once the foundation is laid, the structure will go up within days thanks to the modular design.
It will be the first dedicated place for homeless youths to find shelter in the Langleys. In the past, teenagers with nowhere to stay had to leave the community, heading to Surrey or Abbotsford.
Although there is not a large population of youths on the streets, local advocates say there is an invisible homelessness problem. Many youths are temporarily homeless, or spend time “couch surfing” and staying with friends and other families.
The project was pushed forward thanks to advocacy from local teenagers themselves, as well as groups including Encompass Support Services, the Langley School District, and the provincial and municipal governments.
The new building will create services that simply don’t exist right now for youths with unstable housing.
“We’ve been able to custom design it to what we want to see,” said Langley Township Councillor Charlie Fox, who was one of the key figures in bringing together the team that funded the project.
One of the new features will be a medical facility for nurse and doctor visits. Dr. Geeta Gupta has been dropping by the existing youth hub every other week for a year.
“At the moment, we work out of a couch in a room that has no equipment at all,” said Gupta. She’s looking forward to the building being complete.
There will also be aboriginal support services and mental health programs, laundry and showers, and a kitchen to allow for meals on site.
The Township is providing the land, valued at about $450,000, while the province is contributing $355,000 towards construction. Local teens raised $18,000 towards the project, and more money was donated by anonymous philanthropists.