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

Jaeden Izik-Dzurko from Salmon Arm is featured on Virtually VRS, the Vancouver Recital Society’s online concert series. (Vancouver Recital Society image)
Salmon Arm pianist featured in Vancouver society’s first online concert series

Salmon Arm Secondary alumni Jaeden Izik-Dzurko continues to amaze

City council hears what a success Salmon Arm’s first Pride Project Arts & Awareness Festival on Oct. 14 to 18, 2020 was. (Caytlin Mary Photography photo)
First Salmon Arm Pride Festival evokes gratitude, emotion from city council

Presenters describe how festival celebrating LGBTQ2S+ community changed lives

Salmon Arm mayor Alan Harrison receives the ceremonial first poppy from Harry Welton of the Salmon Arm Legion on Wednesday, Oct. 28. (Jim Elliot-Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm mayor Alan Harrison receives the ceremonial first poppy from Harry Welton of the Salmon Arm Legion on Wednesday, Oct. 28. (Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm residents encouraged to observe Remembrance Day, but not at cenotaph

Pandemic restrictions necessitate small gathering at cenotaph on November 11

Four staff members at the Okanagan Men’s Centre have tested positive for COVID-19 since Oct. 23, 2020. (Adult and Teen Challenge OMC photo)
Four positive COVID-19 cases at Okanagan Men’s Centre

Those affected are staff and have been in isolation since Oct. 23

A radon test kit. (File Photo)
Free radon testing kits available in Sicamous

Kits will help detect the carcinogenic gas found in some homes

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Superintendent of the Kelowna RCMP, Kara Triance. (Capital News file)
Non-violent crime, small population contributes to Kelowna’s crime rate spike, says RCMP

Kelowna RCMP is assuring the public the city is a safe place

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Crime up 31 per cent in Vernon in 2019: Statistics Canada

Increase includes a 45 per cent rise in violent Criminal Code violations

A Tuesday Oct. 27, 2020 apartment fire in Penticton killed two and displaced dozens more. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Fatal Penticton apartment fire deemed accidental

The blaze gutted an apartment building on Tuesday morning, killing two people and displacing dozens

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Interior Health reports seven more COVID-19 cases

Eighty-nine cases remain active, none of whom are currently hospitalized

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

Animal care manager Tracy Reynolds confirmed the lynx is the same wildcat that was spotted wandering North Kamloops in broad daylight on Sunday, Oct. 25. BC Wildlife Park.
Lynx found wandering Kamloops taken to BC Wildlife Park

While the lynx’s outward appearance was deemed normal, it actually had an abdominal infection

Most Read