Initial homeless count shows drop in street homelessness; overall homelessness increasing

April 9, 2010 | Uncategorized

Early results from the City of Vancouver’s homeless count on March 23, 2010 show the number of people sleeping on the street has dropped substantially due to the opening of new shelters and interim housing measures, but the number of people who are homeless has increased since 2008.

“The preliminary numbers from the homeless count show that although the City’s support for temporary shelters is helping to get people off the street, there is still a lot of work to be done to create housing,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “The shelters are working but we urgently need new housing, both interim and permanent, to seriously reduce the number of people who are on the street.”

The following are the preliminary results of the 2010 homeless count in comparison to the data from the 2008 count.

 
 2008
% of total
 2010
% of total
 % Change 2008-2010

Sheltered homeless
 765
49%
1334
76%
+74%

Street homeless
 811
51%
 428
24%
-47%

Total
1576
100%
1762
100%
12%

 

 

Since 2008, the City has worked closely with the provincial government to open emergency shelters using City supplied land and facilities. There are currently seven shelters operating in the city and the Province has funded the operating costs for those facilities.

Three of the shelters, known as Homeless Emergency Action Team or HEAT shelters, are open year-round. Four other shelters were opened this past winter as part of the 2010 Winter Strategy. The seven shelters house close to 500 people a night, and all seven are currently at capacity.

On April 30, 2010, provincial government operating funds for the seven shelters are expected to end, displacing about 500 persons.

“When the homeless have a safe place to sleep and nutritious food, we clearly see the stability and improvement in their lives,” Mayor Robertson said. “Some people have found jobs, others are accessing health and other services and for many, the future is much more promising.”

The opening of the shelters has been credited with a corresponding decrease in crime and street disorder, including aggressive panhandling in the downtown core. Shelter operators have also seen a decrease in crystal meth use as people do not need to stay awake all night when they are staying in a shelter. 

“Our partnership with the provincial government is very significant for the homeless in Vancouver,” the Mayor added. “The City will continue to look for ways to bring interim facilities and land to the table and we are hopeful our partners will explore creative solutions with us to benefit the community.”

 Photo credit: Jay Black