The Whalley People’s Resource Centre is run by and for the community: people surviving on the streets, warehoused in shelters, and incarcerated in supportive housing in Surrey and beyond.
The Whalley People’s Resource Center operates on the unceded and occupied territories of the Kwantlen, Katzie, Qayqayt, and Kwikwetlem peoples.
The Whalley Centre is Surrey’s first and only street-run centre, free from police and social worker-control, where unhoused and low income people can organize their own communities and build the collective power they need to survive.
The night the Whalley Centre launched, on December 11th, temperatures dropped below zero. We served dozens of people throughout the night, providing hot meals, warm clothes, and shelter from the cold. During our first phase of operation, the Whalley Centre will be open every Friday night from 11:00pm to 7:00am, when it is cold, dark, and there is nowhere else to go.
The Whalley Centre operates out of the Red Braid Alliance office. The space is perfect for our needs: its location, size, and layout are ideal, it is wheel-chair accessible, and it is already well-known as a safe space in the low-income community. But the deadline to renew the lease is December 31st.
We are launching an emergency fundraiser to pay rent for another year. The cost of the space is currently $3000 a month with utilities. To have the financial confidence we need to renew our lease and keep the Whalley Centre running, we need to raise $1000 in monthly donations or $12,000 in one-time donations by December 31st.
“Nothing is available to people in Whalley right now. If you’re homeless, there’s absolutely nothing. The shelters are all full. There is nowhere for you to get warm, to go get dry, to see a friendly face. And it’s stupid because there’s no reason why; there are so many buildings and resources out here that aren’t being used. So we are: Red Braid is using our resources and our space to help.”
“The Whalley Centre’s awesome, because it has a good energy about it. It’s cold out here and we can go inside and we can show each other love. I feel safe here. I can be who I am.”
COVID-19 safety: From the bottom up
The Whalley Centre takes COVID-19 seriously. We enforce strict precautions, educate the community about COVID-19 transmission and public health measures, and provide resources people need to stay safe, including masks and hand sanitizer.
We believe the Whalley Centre is a life-saving intervention for communities that have been marginalized by the government’s response to the pandemic and the housing crisis.
“Everybody deserves to be warm on a cold night, COVID or not.”
“We are practicing COVID safety. We’re only allowing so many people in the space at a time. Everyone has to wear a mask and sanitize their hands. We go and make sure things are clean, wipe things down.”
“Us at the bottom here, who are more susceptible and more at risk [of contracting COVID-19] – they leave us out to feed us to the wolves.”
Surviving the dangers of the streets
The last official count found 644 homeless people in Surrey, but street community leaders say the real number is at least three times higher. As Canada enters what may be the worst capitalist crisis since the Great Depression, more and more people are becoming homeless every day. The gentrification of the historically low-income neighbourhood of Whalley throws fuel on the flames of mass displacement.
The Whalley People’s Resource Centre is a street community response to the crisis of homelessness, which pushes people into early graves.
“COVID isn’t the only danger we face. We face cold, violence, hunger, all sorts of different challenges everyday. Bylaw and cops [are] very brutal. They come out every morning… kick you in the head or whatever to wake you up.”
“None of us are okay. We’re living in forests. There is debris all through the forests, layer under layer, because we’ve been there so long. Homelessness is expanding.”
“It’s hard to be on the streets between the hours of 11:00pm and 7:00am, when you’re lost and alone, you’re scared and cold, your hands are tingling and purple. Not a good feeling. [I know from] personal experience.”
“Nothing about us without us”
The Whalley Centre is a space run by and for the community. It is a grassroots initiative, independent from the government and non-profit organizations. It is a street-run space for collective survival and resistance.
“It’s important for the space to be street-run because we can learn from each other and we’re not controlled. If someone hasn’t experienced something, they can go to school all they want, they can act like they’re smart, but they know nothing.”
“It gives them a boost in themselves to have that responsibility and organization, just helping out in their community. I know it does for me. That’s what matters: building your self-esteem back up and getting in touch with yourself and your community.”
“You guys helping us, and us helping you, and us all pulling together as a whole to make it happen. We don’t got shit without each other. That’s the lesson.”
Whalley Street Council
The Whalley Centre is organized by a group of unhoused and underhoused community leaders, who hold weekly meetings out of the Red Braid Alliance office.
This group, known as the Whalley Street Council, also organizes broader political interventions, like occupations, demonstrations, and press conferences, to support community survival struggles and build power.
“We have a Whalley Street Council that meets every Sunday and we discuss current events, things going on in the community, we talk about our warming centre, and just get in touch with everybody. If there is anything we can do to help, we’ll try our best to do it – with protests and marches, squats, and our voices.”
We need your help to keep the Whalley Centre open!
We need to raise $1000 in monthly donations or $12,000 in one-time donations by December 31st to renew our lease and pay rent for all of 2021.
Any questions about donating? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (604) 630-1722
Every penny donated will go directly into the Whalley People’s Resource Centre
Please note that we are not a registered charity and cannot provide you with a tax receipt