Williams Lake Housing and Homeless Committee Chair Ian McLaughlin says a recent homelessness count will help seek funding for more affordable housing in the community.

Williams Lake Housing and Homeless Committee Chair Ian McLaughlin says a recent homelessness count will help seek funding for more affordable housing in the community.

Homeless count reinforces need

The 59 people identified during a homeless count on Feb. 16 do not represent the total picture.

The 59 people identified during a homeless count on Feb. 16 do not represent the total picture, according to Ian McLaughlin who chairs the Williams Lake Housing and Homelessness Committee that conducted the survey.

“Our count was done in one day and there’s no way you’re going to capture everybody,” McLaughlin told the Tribune. “In terms of knocking on people’s doors that was only done at the housing complexes on Carson Drive.”

Members of the committee also went to the Salvation Army, the Friendship Society and other places that homeless people gather.

However, homelessness outreach worker Wayne Lucier who helped with the count said ideally it would need to be done from Glendale all the way through the city to get the real number.

On average Lucier reaches out to 162 people a year, or 13.5 people a month, who are looking for a home.

“In a small town like ours, many of the homeless are hidden,” Lucier said. “They are able to locate a couch at a friend’s or four or five people will crash at an apartment.”

Lucier said as an example, he recently visited a woman who set up bunk beds in her living room for people who need a place to stay.

“I’m the busiest I’ve been in six or seven years,” Lucier said of the growing needs in the community.

Standing inside an almost empty metal shipping container he uses to store donations, Lucier said any used home furnishings would be appreciated, and will find their way to good homes.

The numbers tallied during the count will be used by the homelessness committee to apply for funding to the federal government to bring the Housing First program into Williams Lake, McLaughlin said.

Cities like Kamloops already have the program, which is credited with reducing homelessness.

“It shows what kind of outcomes are possible,”  added Tom Salley,  a Canadian Mental Health Association advocacy and support worker.

Presently the average rent in the city is $600 a month for a one bedroom apartment, which is problematic because people on social assistance receive about $610  a month.

“Many of the places that rent for $600 are not what one would call safe housing,”  Salley said.

If the community is successful in obtaining funding, a Housing First program could build on existing services such as the shelter the Friendship Society operates, Jubilee Place that Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) operates and the Salvation Army who is working on setting up some emergency beds for when the weather gets really cold, McLauglin said.

McLaughlin has been the executive director of CMHA for one year and runs the Williams Lake Association for Community Living, something he’s done for 30 years.

There are two group homes in town for adults affected by developmental disabilities and programs exist for people with disabilities who live on their own to receive support with shopping, banking, or whatever they need to ensure they are successful on their own.

A Housing First program would bring needed supports to the community by building more affordable housing, he said.

Landlords are engaging with the homelessness committee,  McLaughlin noted.

“I’m exploring some options with our funders so we can sit down with rental owners. Their concern is that they end up cleaning up the mess when people wreck their places.”

He said rental owners are hopeful the committee can act as the middle man, making sure rents are paid and minor damages are repaired.

“That would be part of the Housing First dollars if we were successful that we would be hoping to implement here so that landlords aren’t having to deal with high risk tenants,” McLaughlin added.

The Association for Community Living is also working on a proposal to build a partially subsidized apartment building, outside the Housing First program, McLauglin said.

 

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

Just Posted

Audrey McKinnon was officially named the NDP nominee for the federal riding of Cariboo-Prince George. (Twitter)
Audrey McKinnon confirmed as Cariboo Prince-George federal NDP nominee

The nomination comes during speculation the federal government

Gibraltar Mine general manager and community sports coach Ben Pierce moved to Williams Lake in 2008 for a career, and has fallen in love with the area while raising his family in the Cariboo. (Photo submitted)
OUR HOMETOWN: Mine manager on solid ground

Juggling academics, sports and a family was a challenge, but Pierce said he and Liselle made it work

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Stolen truck found broken down on Highway 97C, Williams Lake suspect arrested near Ashcroft

A security guard first noticed the truck, and thought it looked suspicious

Habitat Remediation Working Group takes a tour in 2020 of what was then the newly-constructed confluence of Edney and Hazeltine Creek channels. Mount Polley Mine is expected to reopen by September, 2021. (Photo submitted)
Mount Polley mine expected to open by fall 2021: Imperial Metals

The reopening will create about 300 full-time mining jobs

The red rock garden in Williams Lake was filled with new rocks in recognition of the National Day of Awareness of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Wednesday, May 5, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Red rocks left as reminder of missing and murdered local women in Williams Lake

May 5 marked the National Day for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Victoria police photo of suspected cat thief was just a woman with her own cat

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Findings indicate a culture of racism, misogyny and bullying has gripped the game with 64 per cent of people involved saying players bully others outside of the rink. (Pixabay)
Misogyny, racism and bullying prevalent across Canadian youth hockey, survey finds

56% of youth hockey players and coaches say disrespect to women is a problem in Canada’s sport

People line up outside an immunization clinic to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Hospital investigating whether Alberta woman who died after AstraZeneca shot was turned away

Woman was taken off life support 12 days after getting vaccine

People line up for COVID-19 vaccination at a drop-in clinic at Cloverdale Recreation Centre on Wednesday, April 27, 2021. Public health officials have focused efforts on the Fraser Health region. (Aaron Hinks/Peace Arch News)
B.C. reports first vaccine-induced blood clot; 684 new COVID cases Thursday

Two million vaccine doses reached, hospital cases down

Allayah Yoli Thomas had recently turned 12 years old when she died of a suspected drug overdose April 15. (Courtesy of Adriana Londono)
Suspected overdose death of Vancouver Island 12 year old speaks to lack of supports

Allayah Yoli Thomas was found dead by her friend the morning of April 15

Most Read