Barry McLeod addressed Mission council Jan. 20.

Barry McLeod addressed Mission council Jan. 20.

Committee wants youth resource centre in Mission

Mission's Youth Homelessness Committee is looking for a local solution.

Local homeless youth have few resources in Mission, Barry McLeod told district council Jan. 20.

They avoid places frequented by homeless adults, instead seeking help at youth centres in other cities. When they don’t find the help they need, they risk ending up in dangerous situations.

The Mission Youth Homelessness Committee (MYHC) has been meeting for eight months to find a local solution. McLeod, a committee member, presented the plan to district councillors: open a youth resource centre in Mission.

“Our kids are going to other communities to get help with something that maybe we need to be looking at providing ourselves,” he said.

Twelve Mission youth stayed at Abbotsford’s Cyrus Centre in the last six months. Another four stayed at Iron Horse Youth Clinic in Maple Ridge last year, while 17 Mission youth were turned away.

Those without a stable home are spending nights camping, couch surfing, in drug houses, flop houses, and anywhere else they can find a place to sleep, according to McLeod.

Because youth tend to remain hidden during annual homeless counts, exactly how many youth are on Mission’s streets is unknown. Estimates are anywhere between 12 and 25 people.

“It changes all the time. But there are youth 18 and under living on the streets,” said McLeod, who is a youth worker with Mission Youth Unlimited.

A 2011 homeless count by the Fraser Valley Regional District found 54 homeless people in Mission, down from 100 in 2008. Another homeless count is planned for March. This winter season, the Haven in the Hollow shelter in Mission is usually full, with 15 adult men and five women staying overnight. Another 10 have been staying on mats when the temperature dips below zero overnight, as it did this past week.

The MYHC surveyed local homeless youth to understand their top five needs.

Number one was a place to get cleaned up, where youth could get a shower, because, as McLeod said, “the rest of life doesn’t work very well if you’re dirty.” Second was access to laundry and third was healthy, warm meals.

Fourth was non-judgmental adults to talk to.

“They actually want that, and that’s good news for youth workers. We are wanting to be there to help them, but they also want that kind of support from people in their community,” said McLeod.

Shelter rounded out the list.

As a first step, the committee wants to open a resource facility here to provide showers, laundry, meals, resources, and connections. McLeod noted that the Cyrus Centre started much the same way, first opening as a resource centre before offering beds. Down the line, the committee wants to offer extreme weather emergency shelter spaces, a short-term shelter and youth housing options.

There are various community resources for the homeless in Mission, such as meals, support groups, and counselling from the Mission Friendship Centre and Hope Central. The latter, for instance, feeds 40–60 people at each of its 12 weekly meals.

“But the issue is, a lot of the youth won’t go where the adults are because there’s risk for them to be hanging around older homeless people,” said McLeod.

The committee’s idea for a dedicated youth-centric facility has several member agencies interested, including Mission Community Services, Ministry of Children and Family Development, Mission Friendship Centre, Youth Unlimited, and Fraser House Society, according to McLeod. Cyrus Centre likes the idea, while various churches have offered support.

McLeod and the committee will also eventually need support from district council and staff, as well as the business community and service clubs. Funding will come from grants, donations, gifts in-kind, and fundraisers.

“A lot of these things have been offered already, and we’re now in a place of trying to figure out, ‘How do we move forward with all these ideas and even the funds that are starting to come in?” said McLeod. “We really feel it’s an important thing, because these youth can’t speak for themselves. You won’t even find them, probably, if you went out to the street looking for them. They’re hiding in places…and they’re not identifying.”

Just Posted

City begins community engagement for Mission Waterfront Revitalization Master Plan

Wants the community’s input to bring to life the vision outlined in the Official Community Plan

The Abbotsford International Airshow is back for 2021 with the ‘SkyDrive’ concept.
Abbotsford International Airshow returns for 2021 with ‘SkyDrive’

New format features a drive-in movie type experience, show set for Aug. 6 to 8

A young couple walks through the Othello Tunnels just outside of Hope. (Jessica Peters/Black Press)
Hope’s Othello Tunnels fully open to the public

Geological testing proved the area safe enough to open for the first time in more than a year

Migrating sockeye in the Fraser River August 7, 2007. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
First Nations, commercial, and recreational harvesters join forces to save Fraser River fish

‘We have to work together to rebuild these stocks while there is still time,’ says delegate

Father’s Day Parade planned for Mission

Classic vehicles from the 1920s to the 1970s will drive through Mission, Hatzic on June 20

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Most Read