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Homeless count in Thunder Bay reveals 'big disparity', researcher says

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.

Nearly 75 % of homeless people in Thunder Bay are aboriginal, January's point-in-time count shows

Bonnie Krysowaty, the social research planner at the Lakehead Social Planning Council, says new research about the homeless population in Thunder Bay could lead to housing. (Matt Prokopchuk/CBC)
Details on the homeless count in Thunder Bay are out We'll hear what Bonnie Krysowaty of Lakehead Social Planning Council found out about people on the streets in the city 3:38

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.