Vancouver shelters overflow, mostly out-of-work Albertans
Increase in out-of-province shelter seekers reported; many out of work oil patch workers
Summer usually sees a slowdown at Vancouver shelters, but this year at least two organizations report a marked increase in demand, forcing them to turn many away.
The Union Gospel Mission is reporting triple the number of people being turned away this month compared to the same time last year.
"It's been striking in some cases, how busy we've been right through the summer months," said spokesperson Jeremy Hunka.
"Last year in July we estimate we turned away about 50 individuals... this year that number has jumped to 150," he said.
It's a familiar story at the Salvation Army.
Jim Coggles, executive director at Salvation Army Harbour Light, said they have 136 shelter beds open in the summer.
"Typically we would have between 10 and 20 folks enquiring about whether there's space available. This year we're seeing that number has doubled to approximately 30 to 40 turn aways," said Coggles.
More out-of-province shelter seekers
Hunka said he's noticed a significant rise in the number of people staying at the UGM that are not from B.C.
"We've been seeing a 50 per cent increase in number of people coming to us from out of province — mostly from Alberta. And that has a lot to do with the downturn in the economy," said Hunka.
He notes many are oil patch or construction workers.
Coggles said they too are seeing an increase the number of out-of-province shelter seekers, but he believes homelessness in general is on the rise in the city.
"There's the increase in homelessness, the difficulty in finding suitable longer term rental options and just folks wanting to stay longer in order to work on getting their lives on track," said Coggles.
The most recent homeless count by the City of Vancouver revealed a 10-year high in the number of people without a home.
Despite a promise to end homelessness by 2014, the City of Vancouver's most recent homeless count showed the highest number of people without a home in 10 years.
According to a staff report, there were 1,847 people without a place to live. That's a six per cent increase from the numbers in the 2015 homeless count.