Nearly 8,000 homeless in B.C., first province-wide count reveals

Twenty-four seperate counts in B.C. cities found there are thousands of homeless in all corners of province

More than 7,500 people are homeless across British Columbia, leaving much work to be done to prevent and address the issue, according to the provincial government.

The data, released Tuesday by the ministry in charge of social development and poverty reduction, is based off 24 separate homeless counts in 2017 and 2018 in cities including Williams Lake, Campbell River and Penticton.

It found that 7,655 people are homeless, with 37 per cent regularly living on the street and not in shelter spaces. This is the first time a provincial count has been held in B.C.

The staggering statistic includes 219 children under the age of 19 who were accompanied by a parent or guardian at the time of the count. Twenty per cent were aged 55 years or older while 15 per cent were under the age of 25.

The counts found that while a majority of those homeless, or 3,605, are located in Metro Vancouver, other regions such as Nelson, Comox Valley and Salt Spring Island are all home to more than 100 people struggling to find stable living conditions.

In Nanaimo, where officials have been grappling with tent cities and encampments for years, a federally-funded count found 300 people living in homelessness. Federal counts in Kamloops and Kelowna reported 195 and 286 homeless people, respectively.

READ MORE: B.C. women fleeing violence to get new transition housing facilities

Minister Shane Simpson said in a news release that too many people working, on a pension or suffering from illness have been left behind.

“This level of homelessness should never have been allowed to take hold,” he said.

The three main barriers to accessing housing by those spoken to during the counts were high rents, low incomes and a lack of available, suitable housing, according to the report.

Mental health, addiction and lack of supports after aging out of foster care were other key issues – similar to trends found through hyper-local counts that have happened in Metro Vancouver and the Greater Victoria region for several years.

READ MORE: Nearly 700 homeless youth in Metro Vancouver point to gaps in housing, advocates say

More than half of respondents, or 56 per cent, reported battling addiction, while 58 per cent reported having two or more health conditions.

Nearly 30 per cent of those counted had been in foster care or a youth group home. That number increased to 40 per cent in the Fraser Valley, Prince George, Williams Lake and Campbell River.

About 40 per cent were on income assistance, and 29 per cent were relying on disability benefits to get by. Nearly 20 per cent said they were employed.

Indigenous people are also over-represented, the report found, making up 38 per cent of the total number of those without housing.

The provincial government said Tuesday the report serves as a baseline for B.C.’s first Poverty Reduction Strategy, which is expected to be released in 2019.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

View the full report here:

2018 BC Homeless Counts by Ashley Wadhwani on Scribd

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Wildfire erupts north of Sicamous above Shuswap Lake

Observers suspect fireworks sparked blaze, Wildfire BC states cause still unknown

Rapattack crew responds to small wildfire east of Salmon Arm, Sicamous

Three-person rappel crew dispatched to Joss Mountain

EDITORIAL: Improving highway safety

Highway 97 has seen plenty of collisions and accidents over the years

Thompson Okanagan Tourist Association: How accessible is your business?

TOTA launches video to encourage proprietors to remove barriers

Shuswap pet nutritionist and raw diet advocate to be in national magazine

Sicamous-based Deanna Larocque building reputation for canine support

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Police watchdog investigates Kamloops RCMP after stabbing death

The IIO is investigating the police’s lack of success in locating the man charged in stabbing

Forty-three properties near Dry Lake, along Highway 5A, under evacuation alert

Wildfire has been burning out of control north of Princeton for two days

Wildfire near Merritt creates smoke for drivers on Coquihalla

Coldwater River fire was estimated at seven hectares Aug. 3 and classified as out of control

BC RCMP notify IIO BC of incident involving police dog in Kelowna

A suspect and a police dog were taken to receive medical treatment after an incident on Aug. 1.

Alberta man presumed to have drowned after cliff jumping in Peachland

Emergency responders began rescue efforts at around 2:40 p.m. on Aug. 1.

Michael Buble among 13 British Columbians to receive Order of B.C.

Ceremony will be delayed to 2021 due to COVID-19

Wildfire burning out of control at Dry Lake near Princeton

Hot, dry conditions affecting containment efforts

Most Read