According to the 2020 homeless count, Mission’s homeless population has tripled in the past three years. The numbers are not a surprise to the mayor. / Kevin Mills Photo

According to the 2020 homeless count, Mission’s homeless population has tripled in the past three years. The numbers are not a surprise to the mayor. / Kevin Mills Photo

Spike in homeless count not a surprise to Mission mayor

Says better counting system provides a more accurate picture in 2020

Mission’s homeless population almost tripling in the last three years is “alarming, but not surprising,” according to Mayor Pam Alexis.

Alexis says that, although the number of homeless people are definitely increasing in Mission, the spike in the Fraser Valley Regional District’s 2020 Homeless Count and Survey is due to a more accurate picture of the issue than in previous years.

“I can tell you that I’ve been following this for 10 years, and I don’t believe our counts were as accurate in the past. I always questioned the numbers,” Alexis said. “This time they [counted] over a two day period, there were more people on the team, they were more aware of the locations and I believe they captured the more accurate figure.”

MORE: Number of homeless in Mission nearly triples

The homeless count is taken every three years and meant to give agencies a rough idea of the situation in each participating city over a 24-hour period. The 2020 count showed Mission’s numbers had grown from 63 people in 2017, to 178 people today. Every other city in the region saw a spike in the numbers, but Mission’s spike was the largest.

Mission’s natural geography, more so than other cities, made it easier to miss the homeless population in previous counts because they were “off the beaten path,” according to Alexis.

Alexis said that people make claims that the district’s homeless are not actually from Mission, but that is far from the case. She said only around 15 per cent of the homeless population is transient.

The 2020 report has a chart, which wasn’t included in the summary publicly released last week, showing a high percentage of the homeless population have attachments to family doctors here in Mission, according to Alexis.

“That’s significant. Many times people say they are not from Mission, but they are. The majority are, they’ve lived here for a long time,” she said. “That’s why it’s a real concern for me, because they are from our community.”

The mayor said the report is alarming because it highlights the need for diverse and affordable housing options, including some form of permanent housing for the homeless population unable to live without supports.

She said a housing-needs assessment recently came to Mission council showing huge gaps in the district’s rental market. Mission has developed too many single-family homes instead of building with density in mind.

“We were horrified to read that we haven’t kept up with the need for many years,” Alexis said. “Mission has always been deemed affordable, and it is no longer the case.”

A new supportive housing project will be coming before council shortly, according to Alexis.

She said the district has received federal funding for an approximately $16 million facility, which will likely be some form of modular housing similar to Abbotsford’s Hearthstone Place on Gladys Avenue.

The district has, after some difficulty, identified the suitable land for this project, Alexis said.

“It’s all about location, and it’s all about ensuring support,” she said. “Mission’s current shelter, Haven in the Hollow, does not have the support system built in.

“[Hearthstone Place is] so well run and a such a great example of what it can be,” the mayor said. “There’s things in place for people to actually get help, and try and move along the housing continuum.

“Because the longer you’re not housed and living homeless, the harder it gets to transition into housing.”


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Betty-Anne Faulkner is a true legend of the Pretty Estates

Now known as the Sandpiper Resort, the area in Harrison Mills was once the Pretty Estates

Passengers aboard Komagata Maru in Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet, 1914 - Library and Archives Canada image
Abbotsford council is asked to rename street in memory of Komagata Maru victims

Councillors unanimous in their support; staff report to be completed

‘Wild West of Mission’: Surging traffic on rural roads threaten safety, locals report

Steelhead Community Association present concerns to council on Feb. 16

Boxes of blueberries are being sold in Abbotsford as a fundraiser for four local Rotary Clubs.
Four local Rotary Clubs hold Blueberry Blitz in Abbotsford

Boxes of blueberries available for pre-order, with funds supporing local projects

The Great Bear Snowshed on the Coquihalla Highway (Highway 5) in British Columbia. Truck driver Roy McCormack testified in BC Supreme Court in Chilliwack on Feb. 25, 2021 that his brakes started smoking in about this location, and soon after he lost all braking, which led to a multi-vehicle crash further down the road on Aug. 5, 2016. (GoogleMaps)
Truck driver charged with criminal negligence in Coquihalla crash is accused of ignoring smoking brakes

Just before crashing the smoking truck was seen entering Zopkios brake check and leaving shortly after

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Bryan Adams with his mom, Jane Adams Clark, at Lions Gate Hospital. (Bryan Adams)
Bryan Adams gives shout out to North Shore hospital

The singer’s mom was in Lions Gate Hospital for care

Shoppers will be able to get their hands on signed bottles of Ryan Reynolds’ new gin at B.C. liquor stores this summer. (Twitter/Ryan Reynolds)
Limited bottles of Ryan Reynold’s new Aviation Gin autographed and coming to B.C. stores

This summer 100 units will be available to the public for purchase at five B.C. liquor stores

An official investigation will be launched after VPD officers were recorded posing near a dead body at Third Beach on Wednesday morning, Feb. 24. (Screen grab/Zachary Ratcliff)
VIDEO: Vancouver officers under review for allegedly laughing, taking pictures next to dead body

Two officers were caught on video by a local beachgoer Wednesday morning in Stanley Park

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
‘Stay local’: Dr. Henry shoots down spring break travel for British Columbians

B.C. is reportedly working with other provincial governments to determine March break policies

“Our biggest challenge has been the amount of vaccine,” said FNHA acting chief medical officer Dr. Shannon McDonald. (First Nations Health Authority Facebook photo)
All First Nations on reserve to be vaccinated by end of March: First Nations Health Authority

Vaccinations continuing for B.C. First Nations amid shortages

(Delta Police Department photo)
B.C. youth calls 911 after accruing $7K in online gaming charges

‘Police spoke with the student about appropriate times to call 911’

Site C will go ahead, one year later and $5.3 billion more, the NDP announced Feb 26. (BC Hydro image)
B.C. NDP announces Site C will go ahead with new $16B budget

Reviews recommend more oversight, beefed up foundation stability work

Several BC Ferries sailings are cancelled Friday morning due to adverse weather. (Black Press Media File)
BC Ferries cancels all sailings between Vancouver Island, mainland

Adverse weather causes cancellations across several BC Ferries routes

Most Read