British Columbia

City of Vancouver tallies information from 2019 homeless count

This week the City of Vancouver conducted its annual homeless count, asking people living in shelters and on the street to complete a brief, anonymous survey.

Volunteers, city staff surveyed people staying in emergency shelters and sleeping on the street

The City of Vancouver conducted its annual homeless count on Tuesday and Wednesday. (Cory Correia/CBC News)

This week the City of Vancouver conducted its annual homeless count, surveying people staying in emergency shelters on Tuesday night, then following up with a street count on Wednesday. 

It's now compiling the results which will be presented to Vancouver city council in May and made available on the city's website at that time.

A voluntary and anonymous questionnaire asked people in shelters how long they've been without a home, their age, gender, ethnicity and health concerns.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart says information obtained through the survey will help create targeted housing for populations in need, including Indigenous people who are disproportionately affected by homelessness. 

"The detailed information that comes from the survey … provides a demographic picture of who is in these situations, and that adds a lot to the kind of housing that we're proposing," Stewart said.  
Vancouver's first temporary modular homes were constructed in 2017 at the corner of Terminal Avenue and Main Street. (Cory Correia/CBC News)

Temporary modular housing

In 2018, the homeless count found that 2,181 residents were struggling with homelessness, including 659 who were living on the street and 1,522 living in shelters, safe houses and detox centres with no fixed address. 

That total homeless count was the highest to date, according to Stewart, who hopes that 606 single units of temporary modular housing built in the past two years may bring those numbers down.  

There are currently 13 temporary modular buildings around Vancouver that have been constructed with $66 million from the B.C. government. 

"Modular housing has been great because we can get it up in about four months, and we can have immediate relief," said Stewart.

One of the newest modular buildings located at 258 Union Street has 52 studio homes, and residents are provided with daily meals, social supports and life skills training. (Cory Correia/CBC News)

Stewart says he is open to more temporary housing and is pursuing funding from federal, provincial and regional sources, as well as starting conversations with private developers to use their empty lots. 

However, Stewart stresses that long-term solutions are needed. 

"Over the long term we need permanent structures, and so we're looking at, for example, SROs (single-room occupancy hotels) on the Downtown Eastside. We are working, for example, to expropriate a number of those that are in such disrepair, and then moving ahead with permanent housing as well," Stewart said.

Stewart says Jean-Yves Duclos, the federal minister responsible for Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), called the mayor on Wednesday to discuss some housing projects that they look forward to announcing soon. 


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Cory Correia

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