2011 Metro Vancouver Homeless Count Report Finds Some Progress but Increase in Family, Women and Youth Homelessness
February 29, 2012
Today, The Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee (RSCH) on Homelessness released One Step Forward… Results of 2011 Homeless Count.
This final Homeless Count report indicates that the total homeless population in Metro Vancouver was virtually unchanged at 2,650 in 2011 compared to 2,660 people counted in 2008. Those who reported being unsheltered decreased dramatically by 52%.
“We believe the increase in shelter beds across the region and continued efforts by outreach workers are having a positive effect in moving people from the street to shelters,” commented Alice Sundberg, Co-chair of the RSCH. “Unfortunately, the Count also revealed that within the homeless population there was a sharp rise in the number of families with children, women and unaccompanied youth.”
Aboriginal people comprise about 2% of the general population of Metro Vancouver but they remain overrepresented at 27% of homeless people enumerated that day.
“The report highlights the urgency of our call for more resources and culturally-sensitive services to address the needs of Aboriginal homeless people,” stated Patrick Stewart, Chair of the Aboriginal Homelessness Steering Committee. “This ongoing crisis of Aboriginal homelessness is unacceptable.”
The Count found that in almost all cases, homelessness resulted in part from a lack of affordable housing, income security or support services.This support is particularly important during periods of life transition. For example, youth aging out of government care, family breakdown, or during the period where employment ends and (unemployment or disability) benefits begin.
“While it’s encouraging that more people are able to access shelter beds, there is much more we must do,” said Wayne Wright, Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Housing Committee. “Metro Vancouver will continue to work with regional partners and senior governments to leverage available funding to reduce homelessness in the region.”
Since 2002, decision makers, funders and community agencies have relied on the count conducted every three years (2002, 2005, 2008 and 2011). The homeless count is an important tool to better understand Metro Vancouver’s visible homeless population, although it is always understood that it is an undercount.
Funding for this critical initiative was provided by the United Way of the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Foundation, City of Vancouver, and the Surrey Homelessness and Housing Fund.
The methods and implementation of the count are overseen by the Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness and the Aboriginal Homelessness Steering Committee.