Marilyn’s Blog


Saturday, October 20, 2007
Homelessness board gets down to work
Marisa Babic
Surrey Now
Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Surrey is making good on its pledge to tackle homelessness in the city.

The newly established Surrey Homelessness and Housing Society has named its board of directors whose job it will be to disburse cash from a $9-million fund to agencies helping fight the problem.

The board’s task will also be to grow the Surrey homelessness and housing fund, which will be managed by the Vancity Community Foundation.

Surrey Councillor Judy Villeneuve, a board member, says the board plans to meet soon to choose a chair and define policies and procedures.

“My goal is not to spend a lingering six months putting paperwork together on policies,” said Villeneuve, a long-time champion of social causes. “Our hope is to actually get things moving quite quickly.”

Villeneuve expects the board will be ready to consider applications from agencies within the next couple of months.

“We’ll probably get at least one project off the ground within the next year,” she said, noting the complexity of the task.

According to a 2005 GVRD homelessness count, there were 500 homeless people in Surrey.

But most experts in the field agree that number is likely closer to 2,000 since it’s difficult to do an accurate tally.

The society was set up after Mayor Dianne Watts appointed a mayor’s task force on homelessness and housing, made up of 30 people representing business, labour, the development industry, foundations and funders. In July of 2006, the task force recommended and the city approved establishment of the society.

The $9 million in seed money to kick-start the program comes from the city’s affordable housing reserve fund.

The society’s other board members include Surrey Councillor Tom Gill; Steve Kurrein, president of Progressive Construction; Peter Simpson of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association; Reverend Randy Emerson, pastor of Cloverdale Christian Fellowship; Laurie Larsen, president of CUPE Local 402; and Marilyn Herrmann, executive director of the Surrey Food Bank.

Board members at large are Mary Miller, Marilyn Pearson, Randy Heed, Sandy McLeod, and Now publisher Gary Hollick.