Volunteers conducted a recovery home homeless count in Surrey Wednesday (March 11). (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Chilliwack Progress)

Surrey recovery home homeless count hopes to ‘shed some light’ on vulnerable sector

Phoenix Society CEO says Surrey is the ‘biggest epicenter’ of recovery homes in B.C.

A homeless count at more than 30 recovery homes in Surrey is hoping to “shed some light” on just how many people who leave the facilities are at risk of homelessness.

Keir Macdonald, the CEO of Phoenix Drug & Alcohol Recovery & Education Society, said Wednesday (March 11) was the first time recovery centres have been included in the Metro Vancouver Homeless Count, which was March 3 and 4.

READ ALSO: Volunteers search for ‘hidden problem’ during Surrey’s homeless count, March 5, 2020

Macdonald said that, historically, the definition of homelessness or at risk of homelessness was around this “30-day stay.”

“In shelters, if you didn’t have somewhere to stay for more than 30 days, you were counted to be at risk of homelessness,” he said. “For the Metro (Vancouver) count, that’s what they’ve always used, even though in the shelter system, people have been staying in shelters now for three, six, 12 months over the last few years.”

Because of that, Macdonald said, “there was really no tracking around folks that were moving in and out of those (recovery) programs.”

He said most of those people have nowhere to go at the end of their programs.

“It’s really been this huge hidden homeless population that I’ve really been trumpeting over the last year since I came into the role with Phoenix,” Macdonald said. “Many people give up their housing to come into programs, so even those that may have been housed prior to joining a program… it’s hard to hold that rental for three months in the private market.”

As for Surrey, Macdonald said it’s the “biggest epicenter” of recovery homes in the province, housing more than 500 people in more than 50 licensed treatment facilities.

Jonquil Hallgate, the co-chair of the Surrey Homelessness and Housing Task Force, said it’s estimated that 60 per cent of people in treatment centres would be homeless if they weren’t in a program.

“Most of the people living in those facilities… if they weren’t staying there, if they weren’t in that program, they figure around 60 per cent of the people that are in recovery would be homeless,” Hallgate said. “That’s significant in terms of people who have been street homeless and people who would be going to street homelessness if they weren’t in that program.”

Macdonald said that’s what he’s hoping the count will “shed some light” on. He said one of the questions of the survey is “Where will you live when you leave the recovery home?”

Macdonald said that about 35 facilities, with about 300 to 350 people, would be taking part in the survey.

He said it would be an addendum for the Surrey homeless count, with the reason for the count being two-fold: to help keep the community up to date on the situation and to lobby for more funding.

“The recovery sector provides a vital component of that service continuum, but it is temporary accommodation. We really need to be not just looking at the shelters and folks that are living rough, but those that are otherwise precariously housed to be planning ahead for appropriate housing resources for this population,” Macdonald said.

“The recovery sector, they don’t get access to rental supplements to help move people forward. They don’t get access to outreach workers to help people navigate and find housing, so 100 per cent it’s also about lobbying the government to better support these resources to help house people at the end of the programs.”

The results from the count, Macdonald said, will hopefully follow the same timeline as the Metro Vancouver Homeless Count, which will see preliminary numbers released in April and the full report in September.


Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Lauren on Twitter


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

Just Posted

Claiming she has COVID-19, stranger coughs in Cloverdale woman’s face

Clayton Heights woman will now self-isolate for the next two weeks

Police watchdog finds cops blameless for deaths in 2019 Surrey hostage-taking

Woman was killed as ERT officers fired on man holding a knife to her throat and ‘what appeared to be’ a gun in his hand

No, Delta police are not pulling over cars to check for social distancing

DPD dispelling rumour cops pulling over vehicles with two or more people, checking IDs, issuing fines

White Rock/South Surrey experts launch website of mental-health resources

Together White Rock/South Surrey aims to help ease the search for supports

B.C. couple celebrates 61st anniversary through seniors’ home window

Frank and Rena Phillips marked occasion at Nanaimo Seniors Village this week while social distancing

A look at some of the B.C. inventors creating life-saving tools in fight against COVID-19

Groups across B.C. are working together to create what they hope will help people affected by the pandemic

Association launches French-language games, online tools for families learning at home

Games, culture and vocabulary included in new virtual resources

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

55+ BC Games cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

Greater Victoria set to host 2021 event

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

VIDEO: Dog missing in Lower Mainland since winter sees his family again for the first time

Aldergrove helped find Buster, says dad, who has now witnessed ‘the power of social media’

Some April Fool’s Day jokes bring much-needed laughter; others tone deaf to COVID-19

Police are warning the public not to use the ongoing pandemic as a punchline

Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming, but not for several weeks: finance minister

Subsidy will cost Canada $71 billion, but push down cost of emergency benefit, Morneau said

Most Read