Homeless count in Thunder Bay reveals 'big disparity', researcher says
Nearly 75 % of homeless people in Thunder Bay are aboriginal, January's point-in-time count shows
The vast majority of homeless people in Thunder Bay, Ont., identify as First Nations, Metis or non-status Indian, according to new information gleaned during a point-in-time count done in January.
During a 24-hour-period in January, 289 homeless people were counted in Thunder Bay. Of those, 213 claimed aboriginal identity, the research shows.
"I mean that's a huge percentage as compared to the percentage of aboriginal people who are in our community in Thunder Bay, so that's a big disparity there," said Bonnie Krysowaty, the social researcher with the Lakehead Social Planning Council.
Thunder Bay police recently estimated that indigenous people represent about one-fifth the overall population of the city.
Eighty of the people surveyed said they were new to Thunder Bay in the past year.
"Likely a lot of them move to Thunder Bay already in a homeless situation, possibly thinking that they might be able to get some housing here and are unable to do that," Krysowaty said.
The data also revealed:
- 13 military veterans are homeless in Thunder Bay
- the most common reason reported for homelessness was addiction or substance use, followed by family conflict with a spouse or partner
- nearly 70 per cent of the homeless people surveyed are male
- 168 of the 289 people surveyed had been without a home for more than six months
The point-in-time count was done in conjunction with a 20,000 homes campaign survey and both will be used to develop a plan to house everyone who identified as homeless, Krysowaty said.