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Part One: Overview of Homelessness in North Surrey

It is important to note that the road that leads people to homelessness, as well as the path out of it, is quite complicated and it involves different factors (Teixeira, 55). As it is the case with human beings, there are various factors regarding the pulling and pushing forces towards homelessness but often, similar; causative factors are manifested among a group of people in a given demography. For example, one of the leading causes of homelessness could be low-income levels at a particular society whereas drugs addiction could be the primary factor in another community. This phenomenon is however not the same for Surrey where there it has been observed that some factors lead to homelessness in the region. My paper will thus address the issue of homelessness in Canadian Municipality of Surrey.

Notably, Surrey is one of the fastest growing municipalities in Canada’s. Homelessness has been a leading social issue for several years but has been adversely considered a minor problem in the recent years. Downplaying homelessness in Surrey has since resulted in a gradual increase in the number of homeless people more so in Whaley within Surrey (Lyon, 13). Although a majority of new as well as native residents are enjoying standard lifestyles, Surrey has been experiencing several social issues with homelessness being among the most vibrant of all since we can see the homeless people living on the streets.  The most screaming social problem regarding homelessness in Surrey can be identified as the insufficiency of shelter homes to cater for the homeless in the society.  Despite the fact that there is limited historical information about homelessness in Surrey, recent studies show a consistent increase of homelessness in Surrey with as compared to other regions in the country (Saltman, 1). Evidently, most of the affected and concerned parties have noted that homelessness in Surrey has reached alarming levels and there is a need for rapid responses to the issue (Saltman, 1). Homelessness can be thus be categorized into various groups which include those that stay in emergency centers, the one’s sleeping on the streets, and those that are staying with friends or living in places or houses that considered inadequate for human habitation. In this paper, the term “homelessness” will include the people staying in emergency shelters as well as on the streets for more than a month.

Homelessness has various adverse effects on both the homeless individuals and the entire society. In Surrey, the homeless face problems such as ridicule, crime suspicion, and mistreatment that are among the common adverse consequences associated with homelessness (Lyon, 13). One of the significant consequences of homelessness is the negative impact on people’s health. Notably, a study has shown that homelessness is closely related to premature death, infectious and chronic diseases, as well as musculoskeletal disorders. However, psychological effects of homelessness have been termed as the most common, which often result in mental health complications. On the other hand, homelessness is also associated with high social services and health costs. Extensive research in various parts of the world such as the United States shows that homeless individuals are more likely to incur expensive patterns of healthcare utilization (Lyon, 18). In B.C specifically, the study revealed that criminal justice, healthcare as well as other service costs are generally higher for the homeless people compared to those in supportive houses (Teixeira, 65).

Causes of homelessness in Surrey have been linked to a range of factors. According to a report by the National Report on Welfare Incomes, the levels of welfare funding play a critical role in determining the status of homelessness issue in Surrey. In recent years, BC income assistance program has been giving employable homeless people an income that is equivalent to thirty-one percent of the poverty line (Lyon et al., 13). However, an increase government’s assistance has since been announced by the provincial government, with an increment close to one hundred U.S dollars.  However, this increase has not been sufficient in bridging the gap of homelessness in Surrey area. [Click Essay Writer to order your essay]

Also, eligibility for the income assistance has as well been mentioned among the factors that contribute to homelessness as some of the people yearn to be declared homeless and benefit from the homelessness support kitty (Teixeira, 65).  The government in a bid to counter the willing homelessness has revised the criteria used to nominate an individual as homeless. The government also hopes to encourage hard work and self-sufficiency among the people and by coming up with more strict nomination criterion. There is, however, a contradicting effect to the tough approach as it amounted to the reduction in the number of people applying for government’s assistance. On the other hand, the number of homeless people on the streets is on the rise with a smaller percentage receiving help from the government and thus leading the system into a crisis. With more people languishing in poverty, we can predict that there will be more homeless people on the streets unless the government comes up with a paradigm shift in countering homelessness. Another leading factor to homelessness is the fact that a significant number of people opt to focus on charities, lotteries and gambling as a source of livelihood instead of getting a job. Due to the high-risk nature of the above activities, people end up disposing of their assets for cash which they in return loose on the gambling platforms and thus sink into poverty and consequently homelessness.

Other factors highlighted as causes of homelessness include real estate costs. Real estate prices influence the cost of housing which is significantly high in Surrey and thus unaffordable to a large percentage of the people. The existent of a vast number of non-family households in Surrey also enhances the chances of homelessness, due to the lack of family support systems which could otherwise shelter their relatives against homelessness. Single parenting has also been attributed to cases of homelessness as single parents more so single mothers struggle to cater for three or more children. Low income and unemployment rates are also prevalent among sections of Surrey residents and thus amounting to increased cases of homelessness.

Narrowing Down to Capital City, Whalley

The town of Whalley has the highest number of homeless people in Surrey. This is according to the recent homeless count in 2014, which found more than four hundred homeless people in Whalley (Lyon, 15). Whalley compared to other areas in Surrey is characterized by a higher percentage of people living with non-relatives as well as single parent families. The survey also found that most of the people residing in Whalley stay in rented houses with close to fifty percent of Whalley’s population spending more than thirty percent of their income on rent (Lyon, 22).

Whalley currently has the highest percentage of low-income earners as well as the highest rates of unemployment (Lyon, 25). Contrary to the low-income rates and joblessness, the study also found the city to have the least number of low-income housing units in all of British Columbia. The limited housing options coupled with the minimal income levels for a significant percentage of the city’s population increases chances of homelessness. This brings in the question of government intervention; the government should be more focused on employment creation and affordable housing as compared to offering homeless income assistance.

Social issues such as drug abuse, crime, and family breakdowns have also been on the rise over the last decade. Divorce cases been on the rise and are found to have adverse psychological effects on the children harming their academic performances and consequently their employment eligibility. Some of the unemployed youths have turned into crime as a source of livelihood which thus impacts of gang culture and drug abuse among the youth. The above-correlated factors mostly amount to hopelessness and thus being an adverse catalyst for the increasing cases of homelessness in the Surrey.

Part Two: Personal Account

Although the Surrey recognized homelessness problem early, the leaders expected to take action on this issues such as councilors Judy Villeneuve and Dianne Watts have not done enough to move towards the elimination of homelessness efficiently.

To gain a deeper understanding of homelessness in Surrey, I conducted various interviews with the relevant parties inclusive of a homeless person, a leader, and nurse working in one of the homeless dedicated health facilities. I had an opportunity to engage a homeless lady staying at a shelter who gave me a personal and relative account to homelessness in Surrey. The woman by the name Maggie Anja informed me of the inhumane treatment they receive at the shelters. She narrated of how attendants rough up the sick at the shelters and also provide sub-standard medical care for the sick and the wounded. She dwelled more on how the public mistreat the homeless on the streets on the perceptions that they are prostitutes and criminals. Anja went further to explain the various tortures that she had to ensure as a homeless woman which included several rape attempts from fellow homeless men and drug addicts.

Anja also informed me of the common dissatisfaction with government incentives towards the homeless. Based on her opinion, she was convinced that the government had the ability offer them better relief but was purposely holding back from doing so. Anja had also tried to find work, but no one was willing to hire a homeless person as the society upheld a negative prejudice against the homeless. She was of the opinion that there should be increased rehabilitation efforts by the government so as to facilitate the assimilation of the homeless people back to the society. Anja was also of the mind that some of the homeless people engage in criminal activities such as robbery in a bid to get money for food. [Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]

Having obtained a homeless person account, I proceeded to a public clinic provided to cater for the homeless as most of them suffer from at least one health issue. The clinic, I interviewed a nurse called Rosie Matthews who as quick to point out that most the homeless people suffer various diseases that are inclusive of sexually transmitted infections. She also noted that some of the homeless people are mentally disturbed and thus it gets hard trying to contain them at the clinic or have them follow their prescriptions. In my view, I found the clinic too small to cater for the all the homeless people sufficiently. The clinic would only accommodate up to ten patients at a time and did not seem to have sufficient emergency response kits. Additionally, I found out that, some of this people hurt themselves with different dangerous and hazardous materials. Reports in the clinic also explained that they do not have free access to the clinic because it is mostly locked during work hours. Therefore, they need to bang the door before they can be allowed to enter for treatment.

After having several interviews with the homeless people on the street, I proceeded to the public clinic that was provided for them, since most of them have one or more health issues. In an interview with one of the nurses on duty on that day, she identified that most of them are suffering from numerous kind of sexually transmitted diseases. From my personal observation, there the clinic is a tiny place that cannot accommodate more than ten patients at the same time. In one of the nurse’s comments, she explained to be how most of homeless have been reporting to the facility with injuries from the authorities. Especially at night, some of these people report to the hospital with severe bruises as well as fractures and other types of injuries. Investigation of such issues showed that the homeless face brutality by the authorities due to the suspicion that they have been participating or colluding with criminals. [“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]

According to the nurse, the psychological effects of homelessness on these individuals are shown through the number of people that admitted to the hospital with mental disorder issues. In this connection, the discrimination by not only the authority but also by the entire society increases the psychological problems which make the homeless start engaging in alcoholism and drug abuse. The effect is that most are ending up being mentally ill which further affects their life negatively.


Finally, I am of the opinion that homelessness is a prevalent social issue in Surrey that requires adequate attention. Even though there are efforts in place to address the issue, I feel that more should be done by all the relevant parties mentioned above.

Works Cited

Lyon, Dooley, Stephen and Gagnon, Nathalie.The Homeless and the Vulnerably Housed in
Surrey: Exploring Variations in Needs and Experiences. Survey of the Homeless and
Vulnerably Housed in Surrey. The Centre for Interdisciplinary Research:
Community Learning And Engagement (Cir: Cle). 2014: The Web. 28 Nov. 2016

Saltman, Jennifer. “Surrey Businesses speak out against Proposed New Homeless Shelter in Whalley.” Vancouver Sun. N.P., 2016. Web. 16 Nov. 2016.

Teixeira, Carlos. “Living On The ‘Edge Of The Suburbs’ Of Vancouver: A Case Study Of The Housing Experiences And Coping Strategies Of Recent Immigrants In Surrey And Richmond La Vie À « La Limite De La Banlieue » De Vancouver: Une Étude De Cas Des Expériences De Logement Et Des Stratégies D’adaptation Do immigrants Récents À Surrey Et Richmond.” Canadian Geographer 58.2 (2014): 168-187. Academic Search Premier. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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