Number of Fraser Valley families seeking help affording homes stays high as housing crisis continues

The number of households registering on BC Housing's affordable housing list suggests that the province's promised solutions to the housing crisis are not keeping pace with need in the Fraser Valley.

By Grace Giesbrecht | December 7, 2022 |5:00 am

More than 1,000 households across the Fraser Valley were waiting for affordable housing this spring, four years after the province promised to solve BC’s housing crisis.

There were 1,130 families, singles, and seniors on a BC Housing waitlist as of the end of March. That number held steady from 2021.

Three years ago, BC’s housing minister declared the “lack of affordable homes is hurting people and holding our province back.” But despite the policies that followed, the demand has grown dramatically in the years since.

There are more than twice as many families waiting for affordable housing than there were in 2018. The housing registry, run by BC Housing, exists to connect people seeking assistance affording suitable homes to providers (including BC Housing and non-profits).

The Current reported last year on the increasing number of families, seniors, and single people in unsuitable housing. That number has continued to increase in Langley and Abbotsford. In Chilliwack and Mission, meanwhile, the waitlist has begun to shrink.

Story continues below.

Get FV Current in your inbox.

Plug in to the news that matters in Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission, and the rest of the Fraser Valley.

By filling out the form above, you consent to receive emails from Fraser Valley Current. You can unsubscribe at any time. View our privacy policy here.

Having trouble with the form? Contact us at contact@fvcurrent.com.

A growing crisis

In 2019, the province promised to invest $7 billion over 10 years to ensure all British Columbians could afford a home. The figures suggest the province has been unable to keep pace with need.

The suggestion is confirmed by the observations of those who help people with no homes.

More and more people are unable to afford housing of any type, according to Jesse Wegenast, who co-ordinates the extreme weather response in Abbotsford.

Wegenast, who has been involved in supporting the homeless community for years, said he has seen a shift in the make-up of people using shelters.  Until recently, the vast majority of those without housing were dealing with multiple factors that made them vulnerable to losing their homes. That often included severe addiction and mental illness issues.

Now Wegenast said that many people are unable to find homes simply because of the cost.

“We see more and more people driving to shelters in their own vehicle,” he said. “We see people leaving the shelter to go to their full-time job.”

He continued: “It used to be you had to have several vulnerabilities to end up outside. Now for a lot of people it’s simply not enough money.”

On the list

Though not all families on the registry are at risk of homelessness, all are currently living somewhere that doesn’t suit their lives, budgets, and needs. Sometimes, that means families squished into homes too small for them; other times, wheelchair users are stuck in inaccessible housing and can’t afford spaces that accommodate them.

Seniors make up nearly one-third of those waiting and remain the second-largest segment of households on the registry (second only to families). The number of seniors on the list has tripled since 2015. Over the last year, another 60 households with seniors have joined the list.

There are also more people with disabilities on the affordable housing registry than last year. In Langley specifically, the number of people with disabilities on the list has doubled since 2021.

BC Housing operates a separate list, the supportive housing registry, for people at-risk of homelessness or currently unhoused who need housing with additional support. Supports often include life skills training, a meal program, and mental health or substance use services.

Though the amount of households on the affordable housing registry has continued to climb across the valley, some municipalities—Chilliwack and Mission—have seen the number of people waiting decrease. In Chilliwack and Mission, the number of households waiting has dropped 11% since last year. There is still a way to go, though. To reach 2018 levels Chilliwack would need to drop by half from 2022 levels.

Join more than 30,000 other Fraser Valley residents by subscribing to our newsletter. Every weekday morning you’ll get a new feature story and other stories, news, and events from Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Langley, Mission and the rest of the valley. See a recent newsletter here.

We’re bringing independent, local-first, in-depth reporting to serve you and our community.

Subscribe for free and plug in to the news that matters in Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Mission, and the rest of the Fraser Valley.

By filling out the form above, you consent to receive emails from Fraser Valley Current. You can unsubscribe at any time. View our privacy policy here.

Having trouble with the form? Contact us at contact@fvcurrent.com.

Grace Giesbrecht

Grace Giesbrecht is a reporter with the Fraser Valley Current

Latest Articles

The key news happening in the Fraser Valley.

News

February 5, 2023

The magic of a senior’s homemade talk show

One senior’s cure for her social anxiety? A homemade TV talk show that has confirmed that ‘we’re all basically the same.’

History

February 3, 2023

Two old buildings battle for $50,000

Ten heritage sites across Canada are competing for a cash prize, including two from the Fraser Valley. The winner will be decided by the voting public.