British Columbia

Homeless people's life expectancy half of average in B.C.

A new report by Vancouver's Megaphone Magazine also finds homelessness doubles the risk of accidental death.

Average age at death of a homeless person is between 40 and 49 years old, says report

A homeless woman sleeps at a tent city at Oppenheimer Park in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

A new report released by a Vancouver-area street magazine says the life expectancy of a homeless person is about half that of the average British Columbian.

Megaphone Magazine's survey, entitled "Dying on the Streets: Homeless deaths in British Columbia", used data from BC Coroners Service, and claims to be the first ever report released on homeless deaths in B.C.

The study looked at statistics between 2006 and 2013 and found that the average age at death of a homeless person is between 40 and 49 years old, while the life expectancy of the average British Columbian is around 82 years old.

The survey also found accidental deaths accounted for 47 per cent of homeless deaths in the province over eight years, compared with just over 18 per cent for the general population.

The report, from a group that supports homeless people in Vancouver and Victoria, says homelessness is a life-threatening health hazard and steps need to be taken to prevent deaths related to housing insecurity.

Among the recommendations to help solve the problem are that the B.C. government implement a poverty-reduction strategy and that the federal government implement a national housing plan.

Sean Condon, the report's author and the executive director of Megaphone, says the number of deaths in the homeless population is deeply disturbing, in part because they're preventable.

Megaphone is a magazine sold on the streets of Vancouver and Victoria by homeless and low-income vendors. They buy the paper for 75 cents and sell the magazine for $2.


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