Mayor Derek Corrigan called on the provincial and federal governments Friday to provide funding for low-income housing in advance of a region-wide homeless count in March.
Last summer the federal and provincial governments announced they would spend $150 million and $63 million respectively on affordable housing in the province, but Corrigan thinks they need to do more.
“There’s been a total deficit in federal and provincial commitments to social housing,” he said. “Homeless people are the tip of the iceberg. There are many people who are living in inadequate housing.”
Burnaby is one of the only cities in Metro Vancouver without a permanent homeless shelter, but according to Corrigan, shelters are not the answer.
“This immature and childish idea that homelessness is solved by creating homeless shelters is so ridiculous it shows a complete lack of thought on the part of people who are espousing it. No one, no professional in the field would tell you this is a solution,” Corrigan said.
Emergency services for homeless people are more expensive than providing housing and essential services, said Theresa Harding of the Homelessness Secretariat at Metro Vancouver at the Regional Planning Committee meeting Friday. Harding said a “housing first” strategy with 24/7 services help people become self-sufficient and is cheaper long-term.
Others members of the Regional Planning Committee said they did not have the money to address the housing needs of low-wage earners and homeless people in their cities, included North Vancouver Mayor Darrell Mussatto.
“We do not have the resources, never mind for the working poor,” Mussatto said, adding that the municipalities need more funding from the provincial and federal governments. “They’re going to have to find new ways of helping us with this challenge because we cannot do it.”
There are two homeless shelters in North Vancouver, and 42 shelters in Metro Vancouver as of last summer, according to the Greater Vancouver Shelter Strategy website. Although Burnaby does not have permanent shelters there are emergency shelters for extreme weather conditions.