Surrey Shelter Scan

Homelessness is a global problem. Many view it as a drawback to society because it is often associated with a number of social ramifications, which include criminality and victimization. Therefore, homelessness raises questions about justice, and Dr. Evelyn Zellerer, a Criminology Professor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, designed the course Criminology 3000 Justice/Injustice to critically examine the meaning of justice. Through participatory, collaborative learning, we explored a number of contemporary issues that challenged our assumptions on what it means to be just, both in theory and in practice.

Evelyn gave students the opportunity to address two social issues in collaboration with the Social Justice Centre, one focused on harm reduction and the other on shelters. At the beginning of the semester in January 2013, our group endeavored to do a project on shelters. Without any preconceived idea of what products we would produce, we set out to learn about shelters and then embarked on a mission with one main question in mind: how can we contribute to the shelter system in our local city of Surrey? Although this ambitious pursuit seemed difficult at first, as the semester progressed, ideas began to emerge and things came together.

We started by finding out how many shelters were available in Surrey, and we were surprised to find that there were less than 10. After we discovered which shelters were open, we broke up into pairs to visit each shelter and ask questions about the number of beds available, hours of operation, their clientele, services offered, and rules and regulations. These questions were designed to give important information about each shelter to share with people who may need it. We developed this web page and pamphlets with the information we gathered from our visits and meetings at the shelters.

Below is a summary of all the shelters and safe houses we could locate within Surrey, with links to download our pamphlets. This is followed by a description of our fundraiser. Individual reflections on this project are then shared.

Shelters & Safe Houses available in Surrey
Below are summaries of 7 shelters and safe houses: location, services, rules, and reflections from site visits. They are listed in alphabetical order:

  1. Cloverdale Shelter
  2. Cynthia’s Place
  3. Hyland House
  4. Keys – Gateway Shelter & The Winter Shelter
  5. Servants Anonymous Society
  6. Sheena’s Place
  7. Maxxine Wright

Download a pamphlet of all shelters that summarizes key information.

1. Cloverdale Shelter
Operated by Options Services to Communities Society
17910 Colebrook Rd, Surrey

Accessible by bus; about 5 to 7 mins walk from bus stop
Buses: 341 Langley Centre and C70 Cloverdale

Download a Cloverdale pamphlet

Providing food and shelter; assistance in finding work and housing

  • Open 24 hours
  • 10 beds
  • Last call for beds 10 pm
  • No limit on staying


  1. Have to be clean and sober
  2. 2 bags maximum (something valuable can be kept in office locker)
  3. One pet allowed

Funded by BC Housing and individual donations

Visit Summary & Reflections:
“I and my partner went to Cloverdale shelter to talk with them to obtain the information we needed for our project. We had a little bit of a hard time finding it as we both are not familiar with the Cloverdale area. This shelter is located in a nice environment away from all the traffic and rush of the city. After arriving, the first person we talked to was someone who has been living there for the last couple of months. According to him, this shelter was an amazing place with amazing staff. After talking with him for a few minutes, we went to the main office to speak with the staff. At the time, there were two staff members working and they both were very open and friendly. They were really pleased after we explained our project and were supportive as they answered every question we had. Our conversation lasted for about 30 minutes. At the end, we got the contact details of the manager and headed back home. Overall, it was a really pleasant and memorable experience visiting the shelter.” (by Manpreet Dhami)

2. Cynthia's Place
Operated by Elizabeth Fry Society, Greater Vancouver


  • Open 24/7 year round
  • Women only
  • 14 beds

Summary & Reflections:
“My partner and I were not able to visit Cynthia’s Placeas the supervisor never responded to us. However, I was able to speak with one of the weekend staff by telephone. She informed me that Cynthia’s Place and Sheena’s Place (see below) are similar (i.e. house rules and intake assessments). The difference between the two is that Cynthia’s Place does not accommodate children and has 14 beds, whereas Sheena’s Place does accommodate children and has 12 beds. The worker sounded enthusiastic and supportive of our goals and wished us luck in our endeavours.” (by Crystal Morgan)

3. Hyland House:
Operated by Options Services to Communities Society
6595 King George Blvd, Surrey

Download a Hyland House pamphlet

Income Assistance: on site worker to help with financial needs and problems
Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Counseling
Outreach Worker
Housing Workers: assisting those who need to find housing

  • Open 24/7 year round
  • Co-Ed
  • 35 beds, front line shelter
  • 20 room bachelor apartment
  • Emergency shelter: 15 beds for extreme weather


  1. Have to be clean/sober for 24 hours
  2. No criminal charges against women or children
  3. Ability to care for yourself independently
  4. 2 bags per person; items are stored in cubicles relating to residents room numbers
  5. Medication is stored by the shelter (note: medicinal help is not provided to shelter residents)
  6. Curfew is 10 pm, unless work or doctor note is provided (shelter does need confirmation)
  7. 11 pm is final call and all residents should be in their room
  8. Cameras on site, looking over the establishment
  9. Anyone is welcome to the shelter, however no pets!

Visit Summary & Reflections:
“My partner, Iqbal, and I chose to visit Hyland House. Fortunately, we were able to contact the evening manager who, without hesitation, agreed to talk with us. Upon arriving, we were confused if it was even a shelter; it was beautifully built. When entering the building we saw the staff office, which was very small but workable. When we sat down with the manager, my partner and I were astonished to see how many questions the manager was answering without us even asking many questions! We could see the manager really wanted to get the message out there about these shelters, and that’s what our group was for, to assist them and raise awareness.

When we finished the questions, we asked for a tour, which was great; everything is located perfectly, everyone knows one another, and it is very group oriented. You do not feel alone there; it has a very homey feel to it, which is something that is needed. For instance, Hyland House has a movie night and days where they all barbeque together. This showed us how close everyone is in the shelter and it was great to witness this first hand. Before we started this project we didn’t know what we were getting into, and now that I know, I am glad I had this opportunity. All in all, my partner and I had a great experience. We are both excited to see the manager again, and look forward to his reaction with our donations from our fundraiser. One simple recommendation: if you ever have a chance to do a group project like this, take it! The work is grueling, but the relationships you make could be everlasting.” (by Hardaman Minhas)

4. Lookout Society (formerly "KEYS: Housing and Health Solutions")
Operates two shelters:
Gateway Shelter
10667 135A St

  • Low barrier, year round shelter
  • 40 beds
  • Co-ed
  • Daily intakes
  • Open 24 Hours (except for cleaning at 5am and 9pm)

The Winter Shelter
10705 136A St

  • Open from Dec to June
  • 40 beds
  • Co-ed
  • referrals by the Front Room; low barrier

Download KEYS official brochure

The Front Room: Housing Workers
Bread4Life: Offering three nutritious meals a day to those in need
Dejaef Mahler Grocery: A specialized high protein food bank
Outreach Workers: Making connections with the homeless
Positive Haven: A peer-to-peer environment for those seeking support for HIV/AIDS/HCV
Surrey North Community Health Centre: Medical clinic offering physician and nursing services to the disadvantaged
Surrey Street Youth Services: A referral service for youth in crisis
Dental Clinic: Low-cost community dental service
Foundation Recovery House: Support to individuals who are clean and sober
Street Sweeper Social Club: A time and space for artistic and creative expression
Other Women’s Lives (OWL): Catering to the specialized needs of street-entrenched women.


  1. To follow schedules and rules of the program whose service you are using.
  2. To let program staff know if you are unable to keep a scheduled appointment and to take responsibility for rescheduling.
  3. To participate in partnership with staff and other clients (where appropriate), taking responsibility for your interactions and reactions.
  4. To respect the rights, dignity and confidentiality of other people you may come into contact with through your involvement with SFCSS.
  5. To refrain from any behavior that compromises the safety of other clients or program staff.
  6. To inform us (through the Client Complaint Resolution process) if you feel that any staff member has breached the code of ethics, confidentiality or has treated you unfairly.

Visit Summary & Reflections:
“After doing research on shelters, I discovered that there is debate regarding its effectiveness. Proponents argue that in addition to providing a place to sleep, shelters provide safety, companionship and freedom, while opponents argue that shelters encourage dependency and decrease one’s desire to escape homelessness. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to volunteer at a shelter and was exposed to shelter users firsthand.  On my first day at KEYS: Housing and Health Solutions, as we were leaving the Gateway shelter , Susan, my supervisor, sparked a conversation with a man brooming the pavement who was wearing black, worn-out jeans with a reflective yellow vest and hat. She said to him, “Oh so you work here now?” The man replied by saying, “Nope, just giving back.” This made a major impression in my heart. Here was a man that received services from KEYS and was now volunteering his time and labour as a token of his appreciation. He showed me that rather than making him passive and dependent, as the shelterizaiton thesis suggests, KEYS empowered this man and he is now a proactive contributor in society. Moreover, after speaking to a number of other clients at KEYS, it has made me more conscious of the homeless and it has developed my empathy not just for the homeless, but for those who struggle with addiction, those with HIV/Hep C and other illnesses, and those living in poverty.” (by Tony Mudim)

5Servants Anonymous Society

A non-profit organization open all year around
For women 16 years and older
A unique organization that caters to:
– sexually exploited women
– women suffering from mental illness and homelessness

Download a SAS pamphlet

2 safe houses
16 beds and 2 emergency beds
SAS provides many programs, including:

  • a safe place to live, up to 7 years (no required time limit to stay)
  • programs to overcome addiction
  • recreational therapy
  • counseling and medical care
  • healthy relationship skill training
  • peer support to escape sexualexploitation
  • The Ask Learning Centre: Open 9am- 3pm Monday to Friday
    Women as young as 14 years of age are welcome to use the Centre

Ask Learning Centre:

  1. must be sober and cannot bring any sort ofdrug paraphernalia
  2. show up and stay for the entire duration of the school day
  3. no touching instructors or other students
  4. so lending/borrowing money

Safe Homes:
ules are given to women when they enter and are reviewed every 30 days

  1. must be 3 days clean and sober before entering safe house
  2. no illegal substances or use of drugs/alcohol
  3. able to bring 2 bags (size does not matter)
  4. valuables can be stored in a safe in the director’s suite
  5. no pets, but there have been situations where pets are allowed if staying for a longer period of time
  6. if any criminal activity occurs, client is asked to leave immediately

Visit Summary & Reflections:
“My partner, Pavan Besla, and I visited Servants Anonymous Society. We found the location to be difficult to find. As we entered the building, it felt very deserted. It turns out that SAS has only 4 staff members working. We were able to talk to Kim Wiebe, the Director of Case Management & Residential Programs, as well as the Director of Addiction Education, Peer Mentoring, & Outreach. She was very enthusiastic about us wanting to learn about their services. She answered all our questions; she went above and beyond our expectations. She even offered to give us a tour of their learning facility, known as The ASK Learning Center. When Kim was told about our project to help the Social Justice Centre, she was excited and wanted to learn more. SAS is operated with the aid ofvolunteers and they are always looking for dedicated individuals to join their team.

Overall, our experience going to this organization was overwhelming. We learned many things that we would not have been able to learn from a textbook. Learning about the personal experiences that these women go through was very heart warming. We are glad we had the opportunity to provide some form of support through our fundraiser. Nothing beats the feeling of being able to give back to someone that really needs it, especially an individual from your own community. Working with Servants Anonymous Society was not only a privilege, but also an honor.” (by Ravina Chandi)

6. Sheena’s Place
Operated by Elizabeth Fry Society, Greater Vancouver
(604) 581-1538

Download a Sheena pamphlet

Provides emergency shelter for the homeless and offers safe, temporary housing for women fleeing abuse
Clients are assisted with finding affordable housing and employment
Note: the shelter is not wheel chair accessible

  • Open 24/7 year round
  • Woman and children only
  • 12 beds


  1. There will be a screening process on the phone before being able to stay at this shelter
  2. Must be 19 or older, male children must be under the age of 13, and female children under age of 18
  3. 2 bags maximum
  4. No pets

Visit Summary & Reflections:
“The residence has a structured environment. There are on-site staff on a consistent basis and they work towards creating a safe atmosphere. In visitingSheena’s Place, we met with a staff member who was very open and willing to answer all of the questions that she was allowed to. The environment felt warm and inviting. While we were there a few of the residents were home and they seemed comfortable and greeted us with a friendly ‘hello’. Overall, we were both surprised that the shelter felt like a home and that there is an emphasis on achieving goals. We also appreciated that a senior staff member was willing to take time out of her busy schedule to meet and assist us with our project.” (by Crystal Morgan)

7. Maxxine Wright
Safe House
(604) 531-9143

“My partner, Pavan Besla, and I experienced tremendous difficultly getting hold of a representative for Maxxine Wright. We had both e-mailed them and also called in hopes of getting in touch with a director or staff member, but no one contacted us back. Finding that our classmates had luck meeting staff by just showing up, we decided to go to the shelter. When we arrived at Maxxine Wright, we found that the door was locked and would only be opened if we were buzzed in. Entry was only given to clients or an employee. So we were locked out. We tried calling and emailing numerous times to try to set up an appointment. We still did not have any luck. We were only able to find out that Maxxine Wright is considered to be a safe house and that it caters to all girls.” (by Ravina Chandi)

NOTE: Youth Aboriginal Shelter
“My partner and myself went to the Youth Aboriginal Shelter in hopes of obtaining some information and to offer any potential assistance that we could through our project. When we got there, however, we ran into some difficulty because the shelter no longer existed! We were quite puzzled since this information was still up on the web and so we went to Keys which is close by in hopes of figuring out whether this shelter possibly relocated. When we talked to the employees/volunteers at that shelter, they told us that they didn’t have any information about it. In conclusion, it seems that this shelter is unfortunately not in service any longer.” (by Sukhi Virk)


During our visits to the shelters, we discovered that they could use socks and toiletries. In order to collect these items our group held a bake sale and canvased for donations. We were successful in collecting donations from Kwantlen’s Criminology Department, Costco (Surrey), Mark’s Work Warehouse (Port Coquitlam) and Circuittrax Electronics (Port Coquitlam). Thank you, we are grateful for your generosity!

Our bake sale raised $444.23! All the proceeds went to creating laundry baskets filled with socks and toiletries which were presented to each of the shelters for their clientele. We all have a feeling of exhilaration about the success of our fundraiser!




“When I was first introduced to this project, I didn’t know very much about shelters in Surrey. The topic did interest me however, and I was eager to learn more. During the process, I enjoyed working with my group, going out in the field, and fundraising for the shelters. After we obtained information from the shelters, we developed our final products, which included a very successful fundraiser/bake sale and this allowed us to give back gift baskets to the shelters visited. Overall, I’m glad I had the opportunity to enjoy a very new and enjoyable experience.” (Sukhi Virk)

“Upon selecting this course I had a completely different idea of how it would turn out and what we would be learning. On day one we were given the opportunity to do something different, something that really got us to connect with fellow classmates, but more importantly with our society and how we can give back. We were offered to give back by visiting shelters in Surrey and offering them help, support, and raising awareness. When first thinking of this project, I was torn, I felt lost and confused, but as we progressed everything started to fall in place and before you know it we were putting the final touches on our project. When we started brainstorming and we all had amazing ideas and wanted to do so much, but with the limited time we were focused on two things, find out about shelters in Surrey and giving back. So with that our shelter grouped formed final products, the first being a hand made brochure for the shelters we visited in partners, then organized a fundraiser in order to raise money for those shelters. So the class experience to me was very different, but also very fluent, it made us as groups think outside the box. That is what you really need from a course, something that really challenges you because it not only makes you work, but you see how enjoyable and rewarding it can really be. All in all I focused on this project more than anything because it really allows you to connect with society.” (Hardaman Minhas)

“This project has been rewarding. I have learned a lot from the process. The shelter that I visited was a safe house and I was thrilled to see how open they were to help woman and their children. I was also impressed with their efforts to make sure the environment felt comfortable and cozy. I believe this helps to restore “normalcy” in their lives.
I was motivated throughout the process to help and give back. I was fortunate to work with an amazing team. Together we were able to contribute to shelters by giving them baskets and pamphlets. It feels wonderful to give back!” (Crystal Morgan)

“There are some things you just cannot learn from a book or lecture, you need to go out in the community and truly experience it, to understand it. Unfortunately, most of the classes you take for your BA consists of countless hours reading other people’s point of views and reading about someone else’s experience rather than creating your own. That being said, CRIM 3000 Justice/Injustice was a completely different experience for me. As a class, we decided what we wanted to focus on. We decided to focus on harm reduction and shelter awareness. I chose to join the group that focused on shelters. With the shelter awareness project I was able to see firsthand the issues and obstacles staff and the clients using these facilities face every day. I learned more in 13 weeks by going out in the community and working with my group than any book could have ever taught me. It is these sorts of experiences that will remain with you all your life and help shape the way you view the world. For the first time in a long time I am taking something away from a class, I won’t merely forget everything I’ve learned after my final.” (Aida Poostizadeh)

“When I decided to pick this class I thought it would be a lot of paper work, presentations and hours of reading. Surprisingly enough I was quite wrong. This class and experience has been like nothing that I have experienced throughout the duration of my undergraduate career. I have never been given the option to decide the outline of a class nor given a choice between term projects. With my initial decision to choose working with shelters in Surrey, I had no idea what to expect. Now reflecting back on the process and the information that we as students were able to gather, we can now provide our local community with valuable information. We were able to give voices to organizations in a city that is growing every day and raise awareness on the growing problem of homelessness in Surrey. Having the opportunity to marry what we have learned as students and being able to apply these practical skills is an irreplaceable opportunity. I am happy to say that this experience has changed me as an individual. Having the chance to give back to the community I live in has really humbled me. I knew that homelessness in Surrey was a problem that needed to be addressed and seeing this first hand opened my eyes. Most importantly to not have a class just based on the books and teachings of others, but actually learning first hand is the greatest experience for any student to have. I am beyond happy and excited to share all our findings from all the shelters and make this available to individuals who can really benefit from up to date and relevant information. I have come to realize as we conclude this amazing project that every little bit counts. All the information that we can share with our community is a great contribution. Even if one person is able to benefit from everything we have put together, would be a great success. This class and project will be a memorable life experience that will stay with me in the many years to come.” (Pavan Besla)

“Coming to this class (Crim 3000, Justice/Injustice) I was prepared for finals and research papers, as this is what I have been doing in the last two years. After the first day I realized how this class was different from other classes I took in Kwantlen Polytechnic. Crim 3000 gave me a chance to get back in the society, interact with the society and give something back. Our class was divided into two groups, first a Shelter group, the one I was part of, and second a Harm Reduction group. It was a total new experience talking to shelters and doing a fundraiser. Shelters were really supportive of us by talking to us, providing us information and so were the people at Kwantlen Polytechnic University as we had an amazing and successful fundraiser. The best experience I had was working with my group which included amazing students. At first we all were just classmates but as the semester is about to end we all are good friends. In conclusion, this class gave me a chance to interact with society, give something back to the society I live in and to work with a wonderful group.” (Manpreet Dhami)

“Criminology 3000 Justice/Injustice is a very unique class. Guided carefully by Evelyn, we had the opportunity to creatively facilitate lectures on the meaning of justice by incorporating games, acting out scenarios, and using activities to facilitate our learning. I found this elevated expectation of not only being able to understand class material but presenting it to the class in a collaborative way increased the amount I learned. Moreover, as we teamed up with one another to tackle homelessness and harm reduction, it elevated my awareness of justice surrounding these social issues in our community. Not only did this class deepen my understanding of justice, but together with my class, we were able to make a positive impact to our community.” (Tony Mudim)

“Criminology 3000 Justice/Injustice at Kwantlen Polytechnic University is a very distinct class that I have ever attended. It is not like your normal university course, where there are papers or finals, but instead it gave us a chance to be able to help the community. When I took this class, I did not know what I had signed up for, but today I am very glad I did. The life experience that I learned in this class cannot be replicated. It was our chance to give back to the community. We were able to obtain information on the 6 shelters in Surrey, and also conducted a very successful fundraiser, in which all the money went to making baskets for each shelter. I am very grateful to be part of this class, it was an unforgettable experience.” (Ravina Chandi)

“Everyone walks into a classroom and the first thing we all do is look around and see if we know anyone, if we do we go and sit with them, and if we don’t know anyone we all sit around the room making sure not to sit beside anyone we don’t know. In Crim 3000 it was just like that, everyone keeping to their self; however this class is not like many others. Having to actually go out into the field and to push what we felt comfortable with and experience things with each other brought the class closer. They were no longer just people we have class with but rather we all now know each other by name. This course offered so much more as well, by allowing us to try things that we have learned in the class room (such as how to talk and interact with people) and actually apply them. This course is a learning process, as my group and I found out early on, that things learned in text books really aren’t as easy as they seem. Our collection of data was a lot harder than we thought; even just trying to figure out what shelters there were in Surrey was a task on its own. But although there were bumps along the way we got over them and the end result of all our hard work was worth it: not only did we create something that people will actually use in the future, we changed lives by being able to give back, and that’s more than any course I have taken can say.” (Courtney McCulloch)

“When I registered for this class, little did I expect that I would make great friends and help the community. My expectations were of long lectures, essays and midterms. My experience was nothing like I expected. Being in the shelters group I made great friends and had nothing but great experiences with everyone. When I chose the shelter group, I thought it was going to be like any other group. However, I was wrong, completely wrong. Everyone in our group did their share and more. We had no problems and everyone got along great. By far, the best group I have ever worked with. And what’s better is that we were all helping a great cause. When visiting the shelter, I really wanted to help them out. Talking to the manager at Hyland House really got me thinking and wanting to make a difference. The highlight of my time in CRIM 3000 is the bake sale. Working with my group was a blast! Selling cupcakes with Tony was a experience I will never forget. One of the most important things I learned was from Evelyn. That is, you don’t need books, essays and midterms to be a good student and be successful. What you do in the community and how you impact it is what defines you. Thank you Evelyn for everything and showing us that it’s not all about midterms and a classical class setting, and that school can be FUN!!!” (Iqbal Shoker)

“Throughout the course of this class I learned many valuable things, things that I wouldn’t have necessarily learned otherwise. Prior to attending the first class, I imagined this course to consist of quizzes, midterms, papers, etc. I did not think that the class would be structured the way it was. After I attended the first couple of classes, I started to realize the way in which our course was headed. During my time at Kwantlen Polytechnic University I can honestly say that I have never had a class like Criminology 3000 with Evelyn Zellerer. We had the opportunity to interact with the rest of the class, work together with an incredible group, and most importantly participate in fieldwork by visiting shelters. My experience going to the Cloverdale Shelter was unlike anything I’ve ever done. I had previously never seen or even stepped foot in a homeless shelter until this moment. It gave me a chance to reflect on life and made me realize how lucky we are. After the shelter visit, I realized that there is so much that we could do to help which made the fundraiser really enjoyable. This class and our group’s project was a very unique and eye-opening experience that would never have been possible if it wasn’t for a great teacher and great fellow group members. This project allowed me to interact with homelessness and get a closer look at a major problem that effects many people across the world. The shelter was staffed with friendly people who made everyone feel at home. People suffering from homelessness have a real crisis in their lives and to help them out makes me feel proud. I definitely had a great time in this class and can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I’ve made during my time at Kwantlen.” (Sumeet Sarkaria)