Access to safe, affordable housing plays an essential role in supporting the economic and social well-being of families and individuals. While housing in Surrey is more affordable when compared to other parts of the Metro Vancouver region, there are still too many families and individuals living in Surrey who are unable to find housing that is affordable with the resources that they have available.

As one of the single largest expenditures in a household’s budget, access to affordable housing plays an important role in helping to break the dynamics of poverty and low income. Not only does Surrey’s Social Plan9 identify housing affordability and homelessness as a priority for the city but the city has taken an active role in working to identify strategies and partnerships that can help to provide an expanded range of housing options for those who need it most.

See Housing Fact Sheet based on the 2011 Census.

Key facts

  • While many households will aspire to own their own home, for some households renting is their only option. Approximately 35% of all households across Metro Vancouver are renters compared to approximately 27% of all households in Surrey.
  • More than 1 in 3 renter households in Surrey were in core housing need in 2011. This represents approximately 15,500 renter households across the City who are facing challenges in finding suitable housing that costs less than 30% of their household income.
  • The 2014 Metro Vancouver Homeless Count identified 403 individuals in Surrey who were without a place to live on the night of the count, representing 15% of the total Metro Vancouver homeless population. This includes 140 individuals who were sleeping outside at the time of the count, a decrease from 2011, when 260 unsheltered homeless people were counted.10
  • The existing inventory of subsidized housing and the rent assistance available through the Province’s RAP (Rental Assistance Program) and SAFER (Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters) program make a real difference to households in need. Eleven percent, or 4,600 tenant households, lived in social housing in Surrey in 2011, compared to an average of 14% in Metro Vancouver.11
  • As of March 31, 2015, there were 1,458 families and 1,549 seniors in Surrey helped by BC Housing’s Rental Assistance Program (RAP) and Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) programs and approximately 7,988 households supported by subsidized housing. A total of 335 rent supplements are helping homeless people to access permanent housing.
  • As of March 31, 2015, there were approximately 1,442 Surrey households on BC Housing’s Applicant Registry (waiting list) and who were eligible for social housing. This includes 625 families, 291 seniors, 70 singles and over 300 people with disabilities.

Current initiatives

Below are some examples of initiatives underway:

  • In 2007, Surrey City Council established the Surrey Homelessness and Housing Society12 with a commitment of $9.5 million to help work toward solutions for ending homelessness in the City of Surrey.
  • The City of Surrey entered into an MOU Agreement with BC Housing in 2008 to leverage opportunities to expand the supply of transitional and supportive housing units available to people who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness. Through this Agreement, 140 housing units and 40 beds have been opened on City-owned properties.13
  • The City of Surrey adopted its Master Plan for Housing the Homeless in Surrey in July 2013. It provides strategic direction for facilitating the provision of housing and services for people who homeless or at-risk of homelessness in Surrey.
  • Local service providers across the City actively work to provide housing, services and supports to help those who are homeless as well as work on strategies and initiatives to prevent homelessness. This includes initiatives like the Homeless Connect Day held every year in partnership with the Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness as well as initiatives like the Surrey Rent Bank which provides short-term assistance to families and individuals who are in crisis and who are at risk of becoming homeless.14

9 Plan for the Social Well-Being of Surrey Residents (March 2006). Surrey, BC:
The Social Planning & Research Council of BC (SPARC BC).
10 Metro Vancouver. 2014. Metro Vancouver 2014 Homeless Count Report.
11 National Household Survey, 2011
12 Surrey Homelessness and Housing Society. 2012. History.
13 Surrey (City of). 2011.PLAN for the SOCIAL well-being of Surrey residents. 2010 annual report.
14 Sources BC 2015. Surrey Rent Bank