FACING SURREY’S HOMELESS: ‘We’re not drug freaks. We would just love a place to stay.’

Roy moved from Newfoundland to northern Alberta in search of work in the mid 1980s, and although the money was good, after seeing many of his friends develop health issues, he decided it was time to move to B.C. for a fresh start. That was in 2001.

Hoping to get his bearings and start looking for work, Roy initially landed at the Front Room, a homeless shelter in North Surrey.

But steady employment proved difficult to find, so Roy ended up collecting bottles and working odd jobs for cash. Soon, he was living on the street.

One day he met Darlene, a tall, pretty girl, at church.

Both were struggling to find work and were becoming increasingly frustrated with the street crime in the area and wanted out.

“Everyone seems to start in Whalley,” says Darlene, “but eventually you can’t get out of there fast enough.”

Daily, the two began venturing as far as Port Coquitlam, pulling a large cart behind their bikes to collect bottles. Shelter was a constant struggle, between couch surfing with friends and camping in local parks.

“We had a great spot in Bear Creek Park. We had a queen-size bed, a large dresser,” says Roy. “We could even watch the football games on a small TV. Then the RCMP came in and pepper sprayed everything. We had to leave.”

With nowhere to go, the couple found a secluded lot in South Surrey near King George Boulevard and 32 Avenue and set up another camp, well-hidden from the street.

That was home for 13 years until development pushed them out.

Roy was able to develop an understanding with various local businesses which allowed him to clean up their lots and provide “security.” He says Canadian Tire even offered him a generator.

He doesn’t collect social assistance, believing welfare promotes a poor work ethic and should only be used in emergencies. Roy now works part-time at a car wash, does odd jobs and collects bottles when he can.

For the last few months, Roy and Darlene had been renting a house on 24 Avenue. But it will soon be torn down to make way for a multi-family development and they have to leave. Power to the house has already been shut off.

“I just wish people wouldn’t stereotype the homeless,” Roy says. “We’re not drug freaks. We would just love a place to stay.”

NO FIXED ADDRESS: Read the other stories in this Leader special report:

• The homeless: It might not be who you think

• ‘I honestly felt suicide was my only option.’

• ‘I literally have nowhere to go.’

• ‘We’re not drug freaks. We would just love a place to stay.’

• Pushed into despair – and onto the streets

• ‘Once I tried cocaine intravenously, I was done.’

• ‘Everything is a struggle when you don’t have an address.’

• The cost of caring: $7 billion in government services

• ‘ I lost my brother, my mother and my father.’

• ‘Sometimes I would even go to the airport and just pretend I was going somewhere and sleep.’

• Working the NightShift in Surrey

• The solution? In short, more housing






Just Posted

Surrey, Santa Claus is coming to town with lighted trucks

Special events in Cloverdale and Surrey Civic Plaza on Dec. 2

A ‘Peter Pan’-to opens in Surrey this week, and tickets are being snapped up

Show at Surrey Arts Centre is produced by FVGSS, A Musical Theatre Company

Fire destroys home in Surrey

Crews called at 3 a.m. Sunday for a residential house fire on the 12000-block of 100 Avenue

Operation Red Nose returns for 17th year in Delta, Richmond

Last year the program saw 358 volunteers come together to offer rides to those in need

Mariners, Orcas win Fraser Valley volleyball championships

South Surrey senior teams to head to provincial championships next week

Six students arrested, charged in sex assault probe at Toronto all-boys school

The school’s principal, Greg Reeves, described the video of the alleged sexual assault as ‘horrific’

Canada Post ‘cooling off’ period won’t resolve postal dispute, says CUPW

CUPW national president Mike Palecek says the union isn’t holding rotating strikes to harm the public

Calgary city council votes to shut down bid for 2026 Winter Games

More than half of those who went to the polls voted ‘no’ to bidding for the games

Union offers support following B.C. mine death

Death of B.C. mine worker described as a wake up call for industry

Canadian Armed Forces to change approach to sexual assault investigations

New program aimed at a more open and transparent process, will consult with civilians, health and law professionals

‘N’ driver clocked going 51 km/hr over the speed limit

Port Moody police say the car was sent to the impound lot

Death of 38-year-old Fernie man at B.C. coal mine under investigation

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. Sunday morning

Breathing polluted air during pregnancy may increase odds of baby having autism: SFU study

Study looked at nearly all births in Metro Vancouver between 2004 and 2009

Most Read