The City of Surrey is piloting a new outreach program, partnering bylaw officers with social workers “to support unhoused individuals in City Centre.”
During Monday’s (May 9) meeting, Surrey city council approved a contract with Lookout Housing and Health Society “to supply trained and qualified community service workers as part of the SMART Cart teams” for one year. It is set to run through to July 31, 2023.
The corporate report Terry Waterhouse, general manager of community services, and Rob Costanzo, general manage of corporate services, states “individuals in crisis need urgent support.”
“These teams will patrol the City Centre (and other areas as needed) and will be advised when unsheltered individuals are located in tent encampments or other similar situations,” reads the report.
SMART is the Surrey Mobilization and Resiliency Table. Launched in 2015, the city describes it as an “innovative approach to cross-agency collaboration,” adding the program “seeks to address community issues before they become police issues or require other emergency services.”
The city notes that since SMART launched, 60 per cent of cases have been “successfully concluded because the overall risks have been lowered and connections to services have been made.”
SMART Cart will provide mobile outreach services from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and referrals to SMART, as well as other service providers and the BC Housing coordinated access referral system.
The pilot project will cost $692, 754, according to a release from the city, but it is funded through the federal Safe Restart Agreement fund, which is administered by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities. The release notes the funding is for projects to address COVID-19 impacts for vulnerable populations.