Fraser Valley families and seniors choosing between food and shelter

Housing needs assessments across the Fraser Valley show that affordability is out of reach for many in our communities.

The title is boring: housing needs assessment. It evokes an image of a simple government report, compiled by one jurisdiction at the behest of another. And that is exactly what each is. But buried within these provincial government-mandated reports are candid observations about the housing crisis that has left thousands of people without homes, or in substandard housing.

Nearly all Fraser Valley communities have completed their reports. Each involved feedback from stakeholders and individuals about the local housing situation. Here is some of what was reported:

Mission: “We are forcing our elderly, low-income families, young families starting out, young singles, and low-income singles to choose between eating nutritious meals or having a place to sleep that isn’t on the street.”

Langley stakeholder: “A starter 1-bedroom in the city is $1,000 or more. If people are on income assistance, they have to use their full income assistance cheque plus their child benefit to pay for that bedroom. This does not leave enough money for other things like food, transportation, etc.

“There is now a growing population of the ‘working poor’ as well. They are not our clients, but they will never afford a house or a condo. There needs to be housing for everyone. This is facing the younger generation especially. We want a diverse community with opportunities for all.”

Chilliwack: “Neighbouring First Nations are facing housing shortages and there is a relationship between housing challenges in municipalities and First Nations communities. As communities like Chilliwack have gotten more expensive, some First Nations communities have seen increased demand from their members looking for more affordable housing options.

“Stakeholders report that rapidly rising housing costs in Metro Vancouver communities have pushed demand for homeownership and rental options towards the Fraser Valley. This has led to rising land values and greater competition for available units.”

Abbotsford: “An interesting observation that arose during the dialogues was the frustration about a lack of creativity, beauty, and pride in affordable housing options. It was suggested that it would be nice to see beautification of low-income spaces to create pride in ownership and help de-stigmatize these neighbourhoods for surrounding communities and residents.

“The gap between access to transportation and low-income housing also affected accessibility to programs, services, and social supports. Low wages and low rates for social assistance, coupled with a high cost of living were also considered as contributors to the homelessness cycle.”

FVRD electoral areas: “It is important to note recent price increases in Chilliwack and other urban centres in the FVRD will likely have knock-on effects for lower-income households. With very limited rental vacancies, residents are ‘dropping out of the bottom of the housing ladder’ and experiencing evictions with renovations and demolitions.”

Click for each community’s Housing Needs report:

City of Langley: Housing Needs Report

Township of Langley: Housing Needs Report

District of Kent: Housing Needs Report

Harrison Hot Springs: Housing Needs andSupply Report (page 15)

Hope: This report is not yet complete

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