Homeless counts to help build provincial picture of homelessness

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The Province will co-ordinate homeless counts in up to 12 communities during March and April to help inform B.C.’s Homelessness Action Plan, which will focus on permanent housing and services.

Homeless counts provide vital information, including the demographics and service needs of people experiencing homelessness. They also help establish a benchmark to measure the progress made to reduce homelessness over time. A provincial picture of homelessness will be developed based on:

  • information gathered in the provincially funded counts;
  • data from homeless counts being conducted in other communities this year;
  • counts completed in 2017; and
  • information from other sources, such as shelters.

“Too many people struggle to find housing in our province. It’s a major issue in many communities across B.C., and something we hear repeatedly as we talk to people about how to reduce poverty,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “The information we gather, along with what we hear through the Poverty Reduction Strategy consultation, will help us determine what services we need to put in place through the Homelessness Action Plan, so that people can access the housing and supports they need.”

Homelessness has long been an urban issue. But over the last few years, smaller communities have seen increases in the number of people who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, due to high housing costs and lack of affordable housing.

“Good solutions require good data. That’s where these counts come in,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “We know that homelessness is a challenge across British Columbia. Last September, when we announced funding for 2,000 units of modular housing for people struggling with homelessness, communities across the province – large and small – jumped at the opportunity to provide homes for those in need. Through these counts, we can get better data on the extent of the challenge in each region, giving us the information we need to plan future housing solutions.”

The Homelessness Services Association of BC has been contracted to co-ordinate the provincial count and will partner with the BC Non-Profit Housing Association and Urban Matters to support communities and compile the results.

“Our project team is very pleased to be given the opportunity to work with local communities to implement the count,” said Celine Mauboules, executive director, Homelessness Services Association of BC. “Although counts do not give us a full picture of the extent of homelessness, they do provide important information on the estimated number, key demographics and service needs of those experiencing homelessness. Using consistent methodology for the first co-ordinated count across the province is an excellent first step to better understanding and addressing the needs of our most vulnerable citizens.”

The Province is investing $550,000 to fund the counts in the 12 communities, and plans to report on the preliminary results by early summer. The Homelessness Action Plan is expected to be released later this year.

Quick Facts:

  • Communities participating in the 2018 provincially funded counts:
    • Campbell River – April 13
    • Comox Valley – March 7
    • Cranbrook – To be scheduled
    • Fort St. John – April 18
    • Merritt – April 4
    • Parksville and Qualicum Beach – April 18
    • Penticton – April 23
    • Port Alberni – April 11
    • Prince Rupert – March 21
    • Sechelt – April 23
    • Smithers – April 24
    • Williams Lake – March 26
  • The Province will compile the data from the provincially funded counts with counts from the following communities, conducted in 2017: Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley Regional District, Duncan, Vernon. Combined, this will capture approximately 85% of the population.
    • Six B.C. communities that receive funding through the federal government’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) will conduct homeless counts in 2018: Victoria, Kelowna, Kamloops, Nanaimo, Nelson, Prince George.
  • As part of Budget 2018, the B.C. government has announced funding for 2,500 new supportive housing units for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. That is in addition to 2,000 modular housing units with 24/7 support that government announced in September 2017.

Learn More:

Find out more about the provincial homeless counts: http://hsa-bc.ca/research-resources/2018-homeless-count

B.C.’s Poverty Reduction Strategy consultation: https://engage.gov.bc.ca/bcpovertyreduction

Learn more about modular housing: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2017PREM0090-001649

2017 Metro Vancouver Homeless Count:
http://www.metrovancouver.org/services/regional-planning/homelessness/resources/Pages/default.aspx

2017 Fraser Valley Regional District Homeless Survey Results: http://www.fvrd.ca/EN/meta/news/news-archives/2017-archives/2017-final-homeless-survey-results-released.html

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