Nobody feels safe in Richmond, BC United MLA Teresa Wat claimed in the provincial legislature this week.
Wat seemed to blame it on the increase in homelessness, which has more than doubled since 2017.
The latest homelessness count, released two weeks ago, showed the number of people without stable housing in Richmond rose by 91 per cent since 2020, one of the highest percentage increases in the Lower Mainland.
“Nobody – nobody feels safe in Richmond anymore and yet, the NDP government MLAs remain completely silent. Not even a word,” Wat, the MLA for Richmond North Centre, said during Monday’s question period.
In response, however, Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon said he didn’t receive this message when he met in September with Richmond city councillors at the Union of BC Municipalities’ conference.
“They didn’t raise that everybody in the community is not feeling safe,” he said. “They did talk about people who are homeless and the fact that they need some more supports.”
Kahlon said his government has brought in 514 units of affordable housing to Richmond over their two terms in office.
“For a time here, we had a minister of housing on the other side who said ‘If you can’t afford it, just move,’” Kahlon added.
In 2020, the homelessness count found 85 people in Richmond without housing, but this rose to 162 in March 2023 when the latest count was done.
In 2017, the number of homeless people was 70 in Richmond.
Of the 162 homeless people in 2023, 80 were unsheltered, 32 were in warming centres, 46 were in shelters and four had no fixed address.
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