Homelessness is on the increase again in Williams Lake said Canadian Mental Health Association outreach worker Wayne Lucier this week.
“We are going to do a count on March 26 and this time are going to go to a few of the places I know people are couch surfing at because in fact, they are truly homeless, even though they won’t say they are,” he said as he was out putting up posters about the count around town.
Lucier is the CMHA’s homeless outreach work and said he and his team will be wearing yellow buttons to identify themselves and are asking the public to help direct them to people that should be included in the homeless count.
Involved with homeless outreach for about 12 years in the lakecity, Lucier said the count in Williams Lake will be part of a provincial count.
“It’s going to be a little bit more structured, but I really don’t think we will be in for any surprises. I’ve done these homeless counts a number of times and things are not really changing.”
Judging from what’s been happening in his office at Canadian Mental Health Association since Christmas, he believes there will be more people in need.
“Normally we just do the parks, hospital and the Salvation Army, but we are going to a place in Glendale, one on Ninth Avenue. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul at Sacred Heart Church gives out food on Mondays so if we miss anyone hopefully we will catch them there in the afternoon.”
Lucier said he is seeing more seniors facing difficulties because they cannot pay their hydro bills and that he thinks the increase in homelessness is because there are new people in town and others that have finally returned to Williams Lake after evacuating during the summer’s wildfires.
“We did lose a lot of people who didn’t come back, but there are a lot of new faces.”