Call to Action
At least 635 Indigenous individuals are estimated to have experienced homelessness in Surrey as of 2020, a rate of 1 in 26 Indigenous people living in Surrey compared to 1 in 239 non-Indigenous people.
With a rental vacancy rate of 0.6% as of 2021 and a BC Housing waitlist of 2,554 as of 2019, Surrey simply does not have the affordable housing supply to address the needs of those experiencing homelessness. Compounding this, Surrey has a deficit of Indigenous housing options. Despite similar urban Indigenous populations, Surrey had less than one-fifth the number of Indigenous housing units as Vancouver.
There is an urgent need to act. More deeply affordable non-market units – led by and in collaboration with Indigenous organizations – are needed to create exit pathways for those experiencing homelessness. Without more housing options, more Indigenous people will be put at risk of homelessness. And without exit pathways, those currently homeless will face more severe and long-term erosion in their health, social connections, and trust in the systems that are meant to provide assistance.
- Priority #1: Immediate coordinated action is needed by the federal, provincial, and municipal governments to create deeply affordable housing, with and without supports, in Surrey to offer an exit strategy for Indigenous people experiencing homelessness and to prevent individuals and households from falling into homelessness. Housing is needed for single Indigenous men and women, and low-income families in crisis, especially single-parent families.
- Priority #2: Create and implement a strategy to increase local Indigenous capacity to develop affordable housing in Surrey.