Painful Truth: Homelessness is the only issue on Langley ballots

Reporter Matthew Claxton said reducing homelessness should be a focus for those elected.

Taxes, roads, growth, taxes, even crime – they’re all far down the ballot for me.

This year, only one issue is getting my vote, and that’s how to end the crisis in homelessness and end the failure to face it that has infected our local governments.

I grew up in Langley. When I was young, the population of the Langleys was about half what it is now.

There were homeless people, though they were all but invisible. From talking to folks who remember those days, the rough number seems to have been between five and 10.

The number of homeless has not doubled with the population. We do not have 10 or 20 people living on our streets and in temporary shelter. We have more than 200, and the numbers are growing with every count.

The reasons are well known – old, marginal housing is being torn down everywhere, and replacements are few and far between.

But our local leaders have, for the most part, moved far too slowly to take action on their own, and to demand action from the provincial and federal governments.

The fact that we now have a number of modular housing projects across the region – but not yet in Langley – is only due to a change in the government in Victoria.

But we need more. We need the Quality Inn supportive housing project here in the Langleys. We need further projects to follow – expansions and rebuilding at the Langley Lions Seniors Housing buildings, new low-cost rental buildings, mixed-income developments.

We need mayors and councils who will push those items to the front of the agenda and keep them there.

It’s easy to ignore the homeless. Most people never speak to them. If it were not part of my job, I probably wouldn’t.

But I have, and so I know that they are people. Sometimes difficult, troubled people, but human beings, and no less deserving of a warm place to sleep, shelter from the weather, and somewhere to keep their belongings.

If we fail at this task, we fail again to live up to the most basic ideals of a community.

• Read Bob Groeneveld’s Odd Thoughts column at langleyadvance.com

2018 municipal electionHomelessnessPainful Truth

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Former Abbotsford resident giving away $1,000

Langley native Alex Johnson creates elaborate treasure hunt to give away cash

Heritage rail to remain closed for both July and August

Fraser Valley Heritage Rail Society may open Cloverdale Station in September

Lost Langley couple rescued from James Lake, near Kelowna

The rescue occurred Saturday, July 11

UPDATED: Build your own dinosaur zoo with animatronic auction in Langley

Dozens of robot dinosaurs and fossils are going on the auction block next month

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

COVID-19 exposure on Vancouver flight

The Air Canada 8421 flight travelled from Kelowna to Vancouver on July 6

Double homicide investigation leads Vancouver police to Chilliwack

A VPD forensics unit was in Chilliwack Saturday collecting evidence connected to East Van murders

Tree planters get help with COVID-19 protective measures

Ottawa funds extra transportation, sanitizing for crews

UPDATE: Abbotsford shooting victim was alleged ‘crime boss,’ according to court documents

Jazzy Sran, 43, was believed to have been smuggling cocaine across the border

Trudeau apologizes for not recusing himself from WE decision

He says his and his family’s longtime involvement with the WE organization should have kept him out of the discussions

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Washington’s NFL team drops ‘Redskins’ name after 87 years

The franchise was given the name back in 1933, when it was still in Boston

Most Read