WATCH: Homelessness has long been a concern in Victoria but now a survey shows it has spread to the unexpected place of Sooke. As Luisa Alvarez reports, there are concerns, because unlike the capital city, resources in the area are few and far between.
In the small community of Sooke, a recent homeless count has shined a much-needed light on an existing problem ? that many say has been swept under the rug.
Terry Larkin is homeless living in Sooke and says he’s grateful a survey was finally done.
“Unless there are numbers the powerful people will prevent from putting money into any social service if they can, everybody wants to put a blind eye to homelessness they just look at you and look away,” he said
The official count was 38, but Paul Drake, who has been living on the streets for the past ten days, says the number could potentially be much higher.
“I bet you there are over 100 people homeless in Sooke. I know some people who just didn’t want to go in and do the survey because they don’t want people to know they’re homeless,” said Drake.
Sherry Thompson advocates for the homeless and she said people should really listen to what they have to say.
“They are the ones that are suffering, the ones who are struggling and really in survival mode each day and their voices need to be heard,” she said.
Which is why now they’re speaking out hoping the light gets pointed at what they say, from experience, is a broken system.
Alyxandra Shaw is a published author but became homeless after life threw some curve balls, she said she was stunned to find out how badly the system wants people to fail.
“It took me over two and a half months to get on basic social services where they give you 235$ and I laughed myself sick when I saw the maximum they would give me for rent was $375. Please tell me where I can live for $375 and tell me where I can feed myself for $235 a month,” said Shaw.
The other issue is in Sooke, as the only resource anyone experiencing homelessness has is a Crisis Center on Church road.
But its old, run down and only open Monday to Friday for three hours between 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Volunteer with the crisis center and outreach worker Dawn Latimer said there is a definite need in the community for an overnight shelter.
“There have been plenty of nights this past winter that they have absolutely nowhere to go and a lot of them don’t feel safe going into town and using the shelters out there I think a lot of them are here because it’s safer than being on the streets in Victoria,” said Latimer
The lack of resources locally in Sooke has left them feeling desperate, forgotten and alone.
Drake recalls a time when he was sleeping in the Park and police told him they were giving him a break by not arresting him.
“I’d rather be arrested and go to prison its warmer,” said Drake.