Local volunteers needed for next week’s homeless count

A region-wide homeless count begins at midnight March 15 in shelters and starting at 4 a.m. volunteers armed with questionnaires will fan out to search the streets and other areas homeless people are known to frequent. Outreach workers will accompany them to provide assistance.Ron van Wyk, program director for the Mennonite Central Committee of B.C., said about 150 volunteers will simultaneously count the homeless in the Fraser Valley Regional District, up as far as Boston Bar.He said shelter beds in Abbotsford aren’t as busy as they have been in past years.“We think the new shelter that was opened in Mission certainly helped alleviate the pressure in Abbotsford,” van Wyk said.But he noted some advocates in Chilliwack think homelessness there may have doubled since 2008, adding it’s difficult to predict what the count will find.“It’s always an undercount because you don’t get everybody,” he said.If you would like to help, or if you need more information, call Jeff Arnold  at 604-826-3634 or Kirsten Hargreaves at 604-820-3752. All volunteers need a current (less than six months) criminal record check and must fill out a volunteer application form.