The results of this year’s annual Vancouver homeless count were presented to City Council today, showing that homelessness in the city continues to grow.
Overall, the city saw a 2% increase in homelessness over this time last year.
The count, held on March 13 and 14, 2018, found 2,181 residents facing homelessness in the city, an increase of 43 people from 2017, when 2,138 individuals were counted.
Of those counted this year, 659 were living on the street and 1,522 were living in shelters, compared to 537 street homeless and 1,601 sheltered in 2017. 52% of those surveyed reported being homeless for less than a year.
“Vancouver has taken bold steps to tackle homelessness, but this year’s numbers are a stark reminder that we need to keep doing more to help our most vulnerable,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Thanks to a strong partnership with the new BC Government, we’ve been able to house hundreds of people in a very short time.”
With “hundreds” of new temporary modular homes and permanent social housing set to open in the coming months, the mayor added that he’s “confident we’ll make significant progress towards making sure that no one has to sleep outside at night in Vancouver.”
Some of the reports key findings included:
- Homeless residents reflected in this year’s count make up 0.3% of the overall population in Vancouver
- 78% of Vancouver’s homeless population are people who were already living in Vancouver when they became homeless
- People of Indigenous identity continue to be vastly overrepresented in homelessness – making up 40% of Vancouver’s homeless population but only 2.2% of Vancouver’s overall population
- One-fifth of respondents reported full-time and/or part-time employment as an income source but are still homeless with multiple sources of income
- Income assistance and disability benefits are the top two sources of income with 38% and 29%, respectively
For the first time this year, the Homeless Count reported on a breakdown in addictions as self-identified by respondents.
In total, 35% of individuals responded as having no addictions, while 28% said they were addicted to cigarettes, followed by 25% addicted to opioids.
“Each year there are many factors that contribute to homelessness, and although this year’s numbers have stayed relatively steady people are still living in deep poverty,” said Ethel Whitty, Director of Homelessness Services.
“Addressing homelessness is a challenging issue,” she added. “But we are continuing to make significant efforts and actions with the ultimate goal of providing housing for everyone living on the street and in shelters.”