Students from Langley are calling for community and government support to open up a shelter for homeless youth in the area.
“There is definitely a gap in our system in Langley,” Aldergrove Community Secondary student Tamara Holland told the Township of Langley Council on April 11.
“Langley is one of the few communities in B.C. that does not provide a safe place for youth under the age of 19.”
“Gateway of Hope addresses emergency housing for youth over 19 only, but they do offer community meals to all ages,” she explained to the Council. “Bottom line is, if you are homeless in Langley and are not under ministry care or in trouble, there is no bed for you.”
“Our neighbouring communities have close to 66 supportive beds, and Langley does not even have one,” Brookswood Secondary student Jordyn Laird added.
Brookswood Secondary school student Elliot Cluney told the Council that many homeless youth in the Langley area needed to travel to Surrey or Abbotsford to find shelter.
“Our request is, ideally, a donated space with a storefront and a residential component. We really want support services to be on site, meaning youth with mental health issues or substance abuse can get the help they need on site with access to their their healthcare right there.”
The plan is to build two facilities—one in Langley and one in Aldergrove—with at least four beds at each.
The high school students were supported by Lara Petrie from the school district and Loren Roberts from Encompass Services.
“There are a lot of service providers that are willing to step up and really support this in the fashion of having a resource hub,” Roberts told the Council. “This is a whole community that is starting to build behind this.”
Roberts also clarified that the number of homeless in the community is around 49, not 162, as reported by some media. He told the Council that the misunderstanding stemmed from the fact that there are 162 kids “at risk” of being homeless.
Coun. Angie Quaale thanked the students for their work and dedication to the issue.
“We should not have any kids sleeping on the street in Langley. That is just absolutely unacceptable. So, we need to figure out how to not see that happening.”