Pastor Leith White and Kim Snow are concerned about the recent deaths of two homeless people in Langley. They say homelessness is increasing again, and more housing is needed. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Pastor Leith White and Kim Snow are concerned about the recent deaths of two homeless people in Langley. They say homelessness is increasing again, and more housing is needed. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Recent homeless deaths worry advocates for those on Langley’s streets

The end of hotel stays have made the situation worse, they say

After two recent deaths of homeless people on the streets of Langley, two local advocates for the unhoused are worried that the situation is only getting worse on the streets.

Both the local homeless citizens, Aliyah and Bruce, were fairly well known in Langley, said Kim Snow, the founder of the Kimz Angels group, which supports low income people and those living on the streets.

Bruce had been part of the homeless community in Langley for abut seven to eight years, according to Pastor Leith White of Langley Friends Vineyard Church.

Bruce had been in a local hotel for some time during the pandemic, part of a program that helped people who were homeless or had precarious housing to find shelter.

But Bruce died and was found alone in the bush a few weeks ago.

Aliyah died within a few days of Bruce. Both are believed to have been victims of the toxic drug supply.

“When we lose them, you lose a member of your family,” said Snow.

She and White are concerned about what they believe is a recent increase in homelessness since a number of hotels that had housed homeless and low-income people during the pandemic began terminating long-term residencies earlier this spring.

The bills were paid by provincial support programs, but the hotels were available because for much of the first year and a half of the pandemic, there were few travellers, for vacation or business.

Hotels are now opening up again to travellers as restrictions have largely been dropped over the last six months.

That has removed another resource that was providing housing for the homeless.

“There is no place for them to go,” said White.

Both advocates said the situation is frustrating to everyone, from the homeless themselves, to local officials, bylaw officers, and police.

During the pandemic, there was one major change for Langley’s housing, with the province’s purchase in 2021 of a motel in Milner to become social housing. It’s the second hotel-to-social housing conversion after the creation of Creek Stone Place in 2019.

READ MORE: Milner hotel transformed into new social housing by province

READ ALSO: Supportive housing for homeless opens in Langley

But the concern is that the number of homeless is still rising faster than the creation of new spaces to get people off the street, say White and Snow.

White said they’re often hearing from government agencies that their funding envelopes have run out, that there are no more top ups for rentals or a room for people.

“We need housing that’s going to work for these individuals,” White said.

Outreach programs and shelters are just keeping people going, they said.

“We’re just kind of helping them to live,” said Snow.


Have a story tip? Email: matthew.claxton@langleyadvancetimes.com

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