- British Columbia’s housing minister claims that a new method for gathering data on homeless people is the 1st of its kind in the country.
- 23,000 people were homeless at some point in 2019, according to the report. Just over half of those homeless were there for a short time rather than a long time.
The housing minister of British Columbia says a new method for gathering data on homeless people is the first of its kind in Canada. It will help the province improve its response to the problem.
According to David Eby, the govt used anonymized data from multiple ministry databases to create a picture of homelessness in B.C. in 2019, revealing trends such as high per capita rates in northern rural communities and among men.
“The data set is the most exact count we’ve done to date,” Eby said at a news conference on Wednesday, admitting that it may not include the “hidden homeless,” such as women in abusive relationships or couch surfers.
According to the report, 23,000 people were homeless at some point in 2019. Just over half of people were homeless for a short period rather than long-term.
According to Eby, the province previously relied on data from point-in-time counts in 25 communities, which were known to underestimate the number of homeless people. According to Eby, the new data will supplement the ongoing point-in-time counts.
During the 2020-21 count, volunteers surveyed people they encountered on the streets and in shelters for 24 hours, resulting in the identification of 8,665 people in those 25 communities.
“We now collect this data in 2 various ways to try to ensure as much accuracy as possible and also to set benchmarks for measuring whether our programs are working, how they’re working, as well as where stressors in the housing system may be leading to homelessness,” Eby said.
The information comes from B.C. Housing’s shelter use database and those on income and disability assistance who are listed as having “no fixed address” and demographics gleaned from the Medical Services Plan.
According to the government, the government will use the data to focus on preventing chronic homelessness rather than responding to a specific housing crisis.
Eby, Fraser-Fort George, Cariboo, and Alberni-Clayoquot have the highest per capita homelessness rates, indicating the need for proactive measures in rural areas.
While non-profit organizations typically apply to the province for funding to deliver services in city centers, smaller communities may not have those organizations. According to Eby, the province is seeking to increase B.C. Housing’s reach in those areas.
Source: CTV News