The latest Metro Vancouver Homeless Count has found a region-wide increase in the number of people without a permanent place to call home.
In total, 3,605 people in the region were identified as homeless.
This is an increase of 30% from the last time the count was done in 2014.
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Held every three years, the homeless count is meant to provide a conservative estimate of homelessness over a 24-hour period in Metro Vancouver.
“This latest count shows us that the homelessness crisis continues to grow despite all previous efforts and commitments to stem the tide,” said Metro Vancouver’s Mike Clay in a statement.
“Homelessness is no longer a problem isolated to densely-populated urban areas – it now affects every corner of Metro Vancouver.”
This year’s count was the first one held on a night when an emergency weather response was issued.
Approximately 1,200 volunteers dealt with snow and cold as they walked the streets, visited shelters, and conducted surveys over a 24-hour period between March 7 and 8.
“Homelessness is one of the most pressing issues faced by communities across Canada,” said Lorraine Copas, Chair of the Metro Vancouver Homelessness Partnering Strategy Community Advisory Board. “The harsh effects of homelessness cannot be overlooked.”
This year’s findings, she said, “remind us of the importance of continuing to work together to find ways to address the needs of those who face a constant struggle in finding and keeping a place that they can afford.”
Homeless count preliminary findings
- Of the 3,605 homeless individuals, 2,573 were considered “sheltered homeless,” meaning they were found in shelters, safe houses for youth or transition houses for women. This category also includes individuals with “no fixed address” staying temporarily in hospital beds, jails or detox facilities.
- The count found a total of 378 youth under 25, including 199 children under 19 years of age, 117 of whom were accompanied by their parents. Young people represented 16% of the homeless population in 2017 compared to 20% in 2014, making them the only age group where the count results showed a decrease compared to 2014.
- Aboriginal people continue to make up a significant portion of the total homeless population. This year’s count identified 34% of the total homeless population to be Aboriginal compared to 31% in 2014.
- A total of 556 seniors (55 and older) were counted as homeless, compared to 371 in 2014. Seniors represented 23% of the homeless population compared to 18% in 2014.
The survey also found 607 people who identified as female. Females represent 27% of the homeless population in 2017, which is the same share as in 2014.
A final report on the 2017 Homeless Count in Metro Vancouver will be released in the summer.