News Release: More than 1,200 volunteers conducting the 2020 Homeless Count in Metro Vancouver
VANCOUVER, BC (March 4, 2020) – The 2020 Homeless Count is taking place in communities throughout Metro Vancouver today. More than 1,200 volunteers take part in the event, beginning with a shelter count on the evening of March 3 and continuing on March 4 (6 a.m. to midnight) with surveys of people experiencing homelessness.
The Homeless Count takes place every three years to determine the number of people experiencing homelessness and how those numbers have changed over time. It also collects important demographic information that helps us understand who is experiencing homelessness and why, so that we can improve programs and outreach to better serve these populations and, ultimately, to end homelessness. This year’s count is particularly important, as it will demonstrate the impact of recent investments by all levels of government into the community housing sector and its partners.
“We believe strongly that what gets measured, gets done,” said Jill Atkey, CEO of BC Non-Profit Housing Association. “There is a critical need for government investment into affordable housing in this region, but for those investments to matter we need to better understand the paths into homelessness, and the barriers to tackling homelessness for good. Although the point-in-time count will be an underrepresentation of the people experiencing homelessness in the Metro Vancouver region, it still gives us a good sense of the number of people experiencing homelessness and what their needs are so that we can respond with more effective programs, services and housing.”
The 2020 Homeless Count in Metro Vancouver is an initiative of the Reaching Home Interim Community Entity, Vancity Community Foundation and the Community Advisory Board (CAB). The count is delivered in partnership with the Indigenous Reaching Home Community Entity, the Indigenous Homelessness Steering Committee, the Council of Community Homelessness Tables.
“There are more than 1,200 people volunteering for the homelessness count this year,” said Lorraine Copas, Chair of the Community Advisory Board. “It’s great to see there are so many people across the Lower Mainland who care about ending homelessness and are devoting themselves to gathering the data needed to address this crisis. I’d like to send a huge thank you to each and every volunteer, you are making a real difference.”
“The addition of questions to better identify the scope of Indigenous homelessness over the past few years has been an important inclusion to demonstrate the scope of overrepresentation of Indigenous peoples within the homeless population,” said David Wells, Chair of the Indigenous Homelessness Steering Committee. “Indigenous people are grossly overrepresented within the homeless population, and we know that a large portion of Indigenous homelessness is in couch-surfing, which would not be captured by the tools we currently use for homeless counts. The actual size of Indigenous homelessness is likely to be much greater, but anything we can do to bring this problem to the light of the public eye is important, and the homelessness count is one of the tools that serve that purpose.”
BC Non-Profit Housing Association (BCNPHA) is conducting the count on behalf of Vancity Community Foundation, organizing more than 1,200 volunteers in the following 17 communities throughout Metro Vancouver:
- Langley (City and Township)
- New Westminster
- North Shore (City and District of North Vancouver and West Vancouver)
- Ridge Meadows (Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows)
- Tri-Cities (Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody)
- White Rock
The Fraser Valley Regional District also conducts a homeless count on March 3/4.
In 2017, a total of 3,605 were found experiencing homelessness in the Metro Vancouver region, an increase of 30% since 2014. More than 75% of individuals counted were found in Vancouver (59%) and Surrey (17%). In addition, 34% of respondents identified as Indigenous/Aboriginal, compared to 2% of the general population.
Nearly 13% of people counted earned income from part- or full-time employment. In addition, people experiencing homelessness were not newcomers to their communities; 78% of respondents had lived in their community for more than a year, and 50% had lived in their communities for 10 years or more.
For more information or to arrange an interview with a Homeless Count spokesperson or a local area spokesperson, please contact:
Dean Pogas, BCNPHA Director of Communications
About Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy
Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy is a community-based program aimed at preventing and reducing homelessness across Canada. Reaching Home is funded by the Government of Canada and delivered by a local Community Entity.
About Vancity Community Foundation
Vancity Community Foundation (VCF) has long championed innovative housing solutions and has proven experience managing federal homelessness funds in the region. As the interim Community Entity, VCF works with the Community Advisory Board and partners, including the local Indigenous Community Entity and Council of Community Homelessness Tables, to support service delivery and system coordination to address homelessness.
BCNPHA is the industry association for the social housing sector in BC. It represents, educates and provides service to more than 700 non-profit housing providers that operate more than 60,000 units of long and short-term affordable housing across the province. www.bcnpha.ca