British Columbia

Metro Vancouver homeless count looking for volunteers

The Metro Vancouver homeless count — which takes place every three years — is looking for volunteers to conduct their upcoming count.

The count — which takes place every three years — requires 1,200 volunteers

A person sleeps out of the rain on a Robson Street sidewalk in downtown Vancouver. (David Horemans/CBC)

The triennial Metro Vancouver homeless count is taking place on March 7 and 8 and organizers are looking for help.

The B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association uses nearly 1,200 volunteers across the region to count and survey people staying at shelters and on the streets over a 24-hour period. This year, volunteers will be broadening the area surveyed to include more waterways and parks.

CEO Kishone Roy says the organization has already recruited around 900 people.

"We need about 300 more and in particular, we probably need about 130 volunteers in Surrey," he said.

The numbers from the count provide information to service planners, community groups and municipalities about the homeless population, he said, and data can also be compared to previous years to see changing demographics and trends.

Data used for planning

Roy said this year's count is particularly important because of the provincial government's $500 million commitment for affordable housing in Metro Vancouver.

"We'll be putting shovels into the ground over the next few years," he said. "Figuring out where to do that, how many units and these types of things is really going to be important."

Each volunteer will be given an area of the community and be specifically trained ahead of time to ask appropriate and sensitive questions to obtain the necessary data, Roy said.

Interested volunteers can visit

With files from The Early Edition

To listen to the interview, click on the link labelled Metro Vancouver homeless count looking for volunteers