Brian Orford expects to be homeless by midnight, along with about 50 other people in North Surrey.
It’s Monday afternoon, and Orford is cleaning up his room at the Dell Hotel, in the 10600-block King George Highway.
By the end of the day, scores of low-or-no income people have to be out.
It was initially thought they would be displaced at 1 p.m., but because notification to residents had no hour on it, they are being given until midnight.
As of 1 p.m., only three of the estimated 50 people have left, and there’s an air of defiance at the hotel. Most don’t plan on leaving.
Orford and his girlfriend Amanda Morgan believe they will be homeless, because of their dog Roxy. Orford has had Roxy for 10 years, and he’s not giving her up. Accommodation for someone with a dog will be difficult to find.
“I can’t find a place that will take my dog,” he said.
The problem arose after the hotel was sold to an overseas buyer in September, who anticipated it would be empty.
The building had been sublet to someone who rented rooms for $375 (the total amount of social services housing cheques) to about 23 people. Another 25 or so have been squatting in the building.
Officials from police and B.C. Housing were on hand at 1 p.m. Monday in an attempt ease the transition to alternate housing.
Some social service providers have their doubts about the whole process.
“I think that it’s deplorable that people don’t have affordable housing,” said Jonquil Hallgate, executive director of Surrey Urban Mission, where it’s expected some of the newly created homeless will be sent. “It’s deplorable that it’s Nov. 21, and we’re in the midst of we’re in the coldest part of the year thus far and people are unhoused today.
“And it’s deplorable that there aren’t a lot of options,” she said.
The 50 people that were living in the Dell were not counted in the last regional homeless count, as they were paying rent, Hallgate said.
“People didn’t hang out for the last two months because they thought they were going to get a stay of execution today,” Hallgate said. “They hung out there for the last two months because they had nowhere to go.”
Coun. Barinder Rasode said she’s been told by city staff that all the people will be placed in housing.
“When I asked the question about what that housing looks like, I didn’t get an answer,” Rasode said. “I think it is an important thing moving forward to enhance our homelessness and housing strategy.”
Rasode said the city needs to be prepared for situations like this.
“They should not be put out on the street, especially in this weather,” she said. “They have nowhere else to go.”