A 10-point plan to tackle homelessness in Langley includes a proposal for a “Community Navigator” to help different agencies and levels of government work together better, and calls for construction of “second-stage” housing for women and children fleeing violence, along with other measures to improve services and fill in current gaps in coverage.
It was developed by the Langley Housing and Homelessness Action Table, a “cross-sector partnership” launched by Langley East MLA Megan Dykeman, that has brought together representatives from agencies that deal with homeless people and all three levels of government.
Dykeman said it became clear during the pandemic that homelessness was a “multi-ministry challenge” that required action on many fronts.
“We need to be able to cover the whole gamut,” Dykeman told the Langley Advance Times.
Table chair Fraser Holland, manager of the intense case management team at Langley Community Services Society, said the goal is to make incremental improvements in the way different agencies and levels of government deal with homelessness.
It is a way of focusing attention on specific goals, regardless of funding cycles, or election processes, Holland explained.
“Let’s start doing some of the stuff [that needs to be done],” Holland told the Langley Advance Times.
Holland described the “community navigator” position as someone who would “swim the waters” between the different agencies and levels of government, to look for ways to reduce overlaps, improve coordination, and close gaps in coverage.
As an example of a gap, Holland pointed to a 75-year-old who is released from a hospital stay, had lost their housing, and doesn’t qualify for some homeless assistance programs because they are over the age of 65.
“Shelters are no place for someone who’s over 75,” Holland remarked.
One big gap that is in urgent need of closing is the absence of second-stage housing in Langley, Holland said.
Langley is the “largest community in the province without this housing option,” the report stated.
Holland was encouraged by the interest shown by different levels of government, saying it was clear during the development of the plan, that “we do have all three levels of government and service providers who want to see things done.”
Someone with many years experience working with the homeless in Langley, Holland said this is the first time he has seen this “level of buy-in.”
Dykeman agreed, commenting that “I’m as optimistic as [Holland] is,” describing table participants as “invested” in addressing homelessness issues.
While Langley has so far managed to avoid some of the worst of the homelessness crisis, it can’t be complacent, Holland warned.
“While we’re doing better than many communities, I think we can do a lot better,” Holland said.
Included in the “2023-2025 Homelessness Action Priorities for Langley” plan are calls for creating a community service hub, developing supportive and complex care housing, improving support for people making transitions (for example, youth leaving government care), expanding shelter resources, providing access to hygiene facilities, forming partnerships with organizations developing housing, raising public awareness, and improving staffing levels at existing housing and homelessness service agencies.
Work on making some of those proposals a reality is set to begin next year, said Holland.
“If we took care of three priorities a year, I’d be ecstatic.”
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