Vancouver’s natural beauty is worth protecting. Our children not only need places to play, but also places to enjoy and explore nature. We all need places of tranquil refuge from our busy lives. The animals and birds that help make our city lives enjoyable need places to nest and raise their young.
People and nature in balance is my vision for our parks and recreation system.
07 August 2020
Homeless Count results highlight imperative need for housing in Vancouver
August 5 2020
The preliminary results from the 2020 Metro Vancouver
Homeless Count released today found that 2,095 Vancouver residents are without
a home. While this number has dropped by 128 since last year,
hundreds of people in the city are still without safe and stable accommodation
that meets their basic needs.
The results also indicate that, despite the creation of
new housing units, there continues to be a disproportionate number of people
who identify as Indigenous who are experiencing homelessness.
More than 33% of those surveyed in Vancouver identifying
as Indigenous, despite only 2.2% of Vancouver’s general population identifying
as Indigenous. Racial identity data collected for the first time in a regional
count reveals that Black people are significantly over represented among
racialized groups experiencing homelessness – 6% of respondents identified as
Black compared to 1.2% in the Metro Vancouver general population followed by
“Asian – South” (3%), and “Latin American” (3%). The final report will include
further analysis of this data.
These disparities highlight the continued work needed
from all levels of government, including the City, on reconciliation,
decolonization, equity, and anti-racism.
Vancouver is facing a housing crisis and people
experiencing homelessness continue to be the hardest hit. The Homeless Count –
conducted every year in Vancouver since 2010 and in Metro Vancouver every three
years since 2002 – provides important information about the number and
experiences of people who are homeless in the area being surveyed.
The City uses this data to inform its own policies, as
well as funding and supports requests to senior levels of government. We
continue to partner with BC Housing to create safe, secure and affordable
housing for people experiencing homelessness, including temporary emergency
measures, such as homeless shelters and navigation centres, and additional
longer term options, such as the expedited creation of more supportive housing.
While the count remains a key tool in tracking
homelessness trends, it is important to note some factors that may have
impacted the results this year. Firstly, the count took place in the early
stages of the COVID-19 pandemic (March 3 and 4), prior to the Province
declaring a State of Emergency on March 18. We know that COVID-19 has had a
disproportionate impact on people on low-incomes due to job losses and, despite
Provincial and Federal funding supports, the pandemic has created more
precarious housing situations for many people.
The count is recognized to be an undercount as some
people who are experiencing homelessness do not want to participate in the
survey. Others, such as women, youth and those experiencing hidden
homelessness, may be less likely to be included in the count due to the nature
of the methodology. Moreover, the stigma associated with homelessness also can
impact a person’s willingness to participate in the count or to be identified
as experiencing homelessness.
Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic
In March 2020, the City of Vancouver convened a public
partner, cross-departmental team to address the needs of those living in
poverty and precarious housing or homelessness who are disproportionately
impacted by COVID-19.
The team’s work included:
Improving hygiene and washroom access
Ensuring access to food
Improving access to income
Improving access to safe and secure places to sleep
Supporting overdose prevention and safe spaces.
This work was made possible by funding from the
provincial and federal governments, as well as the support of community
partners and regional and provincial organizations including BC Housing and
Vancouver Coastal Health. The City is preparing for a potential second wave of
the COVID-19 pandemic and the provision of safe housing and shelter options, as
well as additional supports such as food, are key priorities.