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Helping communities better understand local homelessness

To better understand local issues to help municipalities and local organizations best support people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, government is conducting a second provincial homeless count.

The Province is partnering with the Homelessness Services Association of BC (HSABC) and BC Housing to complete 16 community counts throughout the province in March and April. Government has provided $900,000 to support the community counts, pilot an extended count in two communities and support additional research on homelessness among Indigenous peoples.

Data from the counts will provide a better understanding of homelessness in British Columbia. This information will be used to improve supports and services, measure progress in addressing homelessness and increase public awareness.

“Homelessness in B.C. continues to be a struggle for people, and the barriers that they face vary in different communities,” said Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “Our second provincial homeless count is a way that, together, we can get a clearer understanding of what homelessness looks like in order to better support some of the most vulnerable people in B.C.”

The homeless counts give government a better sense of the complex challenges that people are facing. This initiative is part of informing the Province’s actions to tackle homelessness in B.C., as outlined in the Province’s first poverty reduction strategy, TogetherBC. The strategy, released in 2019, outlines programs and policies across government that will lift people out of poverty by removing barriers, creating social inclusion and continuing to focus on reconciliation.

The Province will use new and complementary methods in 2020. Two communities, Cranbrook and Port Alberni, will pilot extended, multi-day counts to provide information on people who may be missed in a one-day count. Government will work with Indigenous partners to highlight Indigenous perspectives of homelessness and create effective strategies for addressing and preventing homlessness among Indigenous peoples.

“HSABC is working with our members and partners in participating communities to implement the 2020 homeless counts,” said Stephen D’Souza, executive director, HSABC. “It is the work of these local organizations that ensures the counts are a success. Across the province, there are teams of volunteers helping conduct the count and hosting community events for people to count themselves in.

“We are still seeking volunteers to help with the homeless counts. This is a great opportunity for you to get involved with organizations working to help those in need in your community.”

Addressing poverty and homelessness are shared priorities between government and the BC Green Party caucus, and are part of the Confidence and Supply Agreement.

Quick Facts:

  • Organizations are recruiting volunteers to support local homeless counts.
  • The report from the 2018 homeless count stated that at least 7,655 people were experiencing homelessness.
  • Indigenous peoples and former youth in care are significantly over-represented in the homeless population.

Learn More:

To find out more about volunteering in your community, visit HSABC’s volunteer webpage:
http://hsa-bc.ca/bc-homeless-count/

2018 Report on Homeless Counts in B.C.:
https://www.bchousing.org/research-centre/housing-data/homeless-counts

TogetherBC, B.C.’s first poverty reduction strategy:
https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/about-the-bc-government/poverty-reduction-strategy

A backgrounder follows.

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