Today’s results from the 2014 Metro Vancouver homeless count reflect a frustrating setback in the work to end street homelessness in Vancouver, but I'm committed to seeing through our action plan to build a city where no one is ever forced to sleep outside at night.
The numbers tell a simple story: with fewer shelter beds, a delay in opening several hundred new supportive housing units this year, and the loss of decent SRO rooms at welfare rates, more people were left outside on the street. With over 600 units of new social housing opening later this year, plus new investments in interim housing by the City and Province in the Ramada and Biltmore Hotels, I’m hopeful we’ll be able to make a big impact before next winter.
We’ve made incredible progress together since 2008, when over 800 people were sleeping on Vancouver's streets. Our partnership with BC Housing has helped hundreds of people leave homelessness behind. Nearly 500 people have moved from shelters into permanent housing since 2008, but there’s still important work left to do in partnership with other levels of government.
Those partnerships will need to be strengthened - more investment is essential to solve homelessness. Fortunately, recent research shows that investing in solving homelessness will save taxpayers money. And in a city and province with so much wealth, compassion and innovation, nobody should be forced to sleep on the street at night. Now is the time to boost our efforts to help those who need our help the most.
- Mayor Gregor Robertson