Volunteers to count number of homeless in Thunder Bay this winter
Tally is part of a national point-in-time count to collect data on how many people are homeless
Volunteers will be out on the streets in the new year counting the number of homeless people in Thunder Bay, and learning more about them.
According to the Lakehead Social Planning Council, there is no comprehensive data on the number of homeless people in the community. The point-in-time count is meant to take a snapshot of a single night of sheltered and unsheltered people who don't have a place to live.
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There is important information to be gleaned from the count, said Bonnie Krysowaty, the social research planner at the Lakehead Social Planning Council.
"We don't know how many homeless people there are in Thunder Bay exactly right now because they stay at different places," she said. "So that data collection is very important to be able to help us develop policies and develop programs to help solve the problem of homelessness."
Asking people about their situation will also yield valuable information that can be used to help those without a place to stay, Krysowaty added.
"What it will do is actually give us a registry list of all of the homeless people in Thunder Bay and why they're homeless and what supports they need," she said.
The social planning council and the Thunder Bay Indian Friendship Centre are working together on the project.
"We need to have a social conscience and house the people in our community that are homeless. It also benefits everybody in the city to solve the problem of homelessness," said Krysowaty, citing money that could be saved by reducing shelter stays, and less reliance on emergency services to respond to some homeless people in some cases.
On Jan. 16, volunteers from the Indian Friendship Centre, Shelter House and other organizations will be out during a 24-hour period to do the count.
Winnipeg recently did a similar count, as did several communities in Alberta.
The count will also be used to provide data for another national initiative that Thunder Bay is part of, called the '20,000 Homes Campaign.' It's a cross-country effort that aims to house 20 thousand of the country's most vulnerable homeless people by July, 2018.