604 Now, Howard Chai, December 4 (with mention of BCNPHA)
The housing crisis in Vancouver gets a lot of (negative) publicity, but the flip-side of that crisis is often under-discussed: homelessness.
Both of those issues are not getting any better, but homelessness is a particular problem because we have a tendency to view homeless individuals as less-than-human.
Hence, to get people to care about homelessness, we have to put a human face on the homeless. The 2019 Vancouver Homeless Count, a report put together by the Homeless Services Association of BC, the BC Non-Profit Housing Association, and Urban Matters CCC, helps us with that.
Vancouver Homelessness Report
Here are 10 statistics from the report that may surprise you.
- As of March 13th, 2019, 2,223 individuals were identified as homeless. 614 of them (27.6%) are completely unsheltered and not living in any kind of homeless shelter.
- The total number of homeless individuals has been steadily increasing since 2015, when the number of homeless individuals was at 1,746.
- A majority of homeless people are non-indigenous. 66% of sheltered homeless and 54% of unsheltered homeless are non-indigenous.
- 77% of sheltered homeless and 76% of unsheltered homeless are male.
- 5% of sheltered and unsheltered homeless report having transgender experience.
- 69% of homeless individuals are between the ages of 25-54. (22% between 25-34, 23% between 35-44, 24% between 45-54.)
- 88% of homeless individuals report having at least one health concern. (A medical condition, physical disability, or mental health issue.)
- 68% of homeless individuals report being addicted to one or more substance, with the most common being cigarettes.
- When it comes to income sources, 42% of homeless people are on welfare, while 31% have disability benefits.
- A majority (40%) of homeless people have been homeless between 1 to 5 years, with 81% living in Vancouver when they became homeless.
Some of these may come as a surprise, others may not. Regardless, it’s clear that Vancouver has a homelessness problem. There’s a certain stigma attached to being homeless that’s akin to those we attach to drug addicts. In addition, like Vancouver’s opioid and drug problem, the solution may not be to round them up or treat them like criminals.