CITY | New West Homeless Strategy

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The Homelessness Action Strategy will develop a five-year vision and plan for addressing homelessness in New Westminster. The strategy will aim to meet the diverse needs of local community members who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness, by seeking to ensure that facilities, programs and services are responsive, and that barriers to access are eliminated or significantly reduced. It will also seek to address business and resident concerns related to homelessness.

The development of the strategy will involve people with lived and living experience of homelessness, businesses, residents, and service providers in New Westminster. Regarding people with lived and living experience of homelessness, efforts will be made to incorporate perspectives and voices that are often not heard, with the goal of ensuring that the strategy is responsive to their diverse and unique needs.

Why do we need a new strategy?

It has been over a decade since the City completed its previous Homelessness Action Strategy (2006)(External link). During this time period, there have been many accomplishments related to addressing homelessness, including:

  • establishing a Homelessness Coalition Society;(External link)
  • developing 28 emergency shelter beds, and 165 transitional and supportive housing units;
  • preparing and annually updating an Extreme Weather Response Plan, which results in additional shelter capacity during the winter months;
  • publishing and regularly updating a ‘Helping Hands’ brochure and ‘Survival Guide’ that list available local resources;
  • adopting business licensing regulations to discourage the practice of ‘renovictions’ from rental housing; and,
  • funding the administrative costs of the New Westminster Rent Bank Program.

Despite these many accomplishments, which resulted in a 58% reduction in unsheltered homelessness in New Westminster between 2008 and 2017, new challenges have emerged. These include; a housing affordability crisis, an overdose epidemic, extreme weather events, and a global pandemic. These challenges are not unique to New West but are significantly impacting local residents, and are leading to a significant increase in homelessness. As a result, City resources are taxed, and business operators and residents are concerned. A new strategy, partnerships, and coordinated actions are needed to address these challenges.