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Vernon homeless number increases

B.C. Housing report shows 279 people listed as homeless, up from 224 in the 2021 count
B.C. Housing has released 20 community profiles of 2023 Homeless Counts, including that of Vernon, which shows 279 people identifying as homeless. The local count was conducted in late April. (Morning Star - file photo)

Vernon’s homeless numbers have gone up.

B.C. Housing has released its homeless count for 2023, and Vernon is listed as having 279 people identified as experiencing homelessness. That’s compared to 224 in 2021.

The province funded homeless counts in 20 communities, including Vernon. The last count was conducted in 2020-21.

Points-in-Time (PiT) homeless counts provide a snapshot of people experiencing homelessness in a 24-hour period, their demographic characteristics and other information.

The 2023 PiT Count took place in Vernon on the evening of April 27 and the daytime of April 28. For the purpose of the count, an individual was defined as experiencing homelessness if they did not have a place of their own where they paid rent, and could expect to stay for at least 30 days.

This includes people who:

• Stayed overnight on the night of the count in homeless shelters, including transition houses for women fleeing violence and youth safe houses, people with no fixed address staying temporarily in hospitals, jails, or detox facilities (defined as sheltered);

• Those defined as unsheltered stayed outside in alleys, doorways, parkades, parks and vehicles, or were temporarily staying at someone else’s place (couch surfing), and/or using homelessness services.

The report says on the night of the Vernon count, 71 per cent of the homeless were sheltered, and 29 per cent were unsheltered.

Of those listed as unsheltered, 62 per cent slept outside, 13 per cent were at someone else’s house, and 12 per cent were in a makeshift shelter or tent.

The vast majority of homeless were adults aged 25-54 (78 per cent). A total of 19 per cent was over the age of 55, and three per cent were described as youth (under 25).

A total of 68 per cent of the homeless was men, 38 per cent were women, and one per cent identified as another gender.

The number of youth experiencing homelessness for the first time was 47 per cent. The survey said 14 per cent of respondents identified as 2SLGBTQIA, and six per cent of respondents identified as having trans experience.

This year, the PiT survey asked respondents if they, a parent, or grandparent attended residential schools, with the Indigenous Homelessness Steering Committee and Indian Residential School Survivors Society being instrumental in helping create the question and provding resources for respondents and interviewers to stay safe.

The report shows 80 per cent of Indigenous-identifying respondents reported having lived or generational experience with residential school, and 42 per cent of respondents identified as Indigenous, which compares with seven per cent of the Census population.

“While PiT Counts are an accepted methodological tool, the numbers are understood to be the minimum number of people who are experiencing homelessness on a given day in that community,” said B.C. Housing. “Percentages are based on the number of respondents to each question, not the total population experiencing homelessness.”

Other stats in the report:

• Number of respondents indicating they’re living with an acquired brain injury increased from 35 per cent in 2021;

• Number of respondents identified as having an addiction issue decreased since 2021, as did the proportion of respondents who identified two or more health concerns;

• 25 per cent of respondents in 2021 had experienced homelessness for under six months. That number dropped to nine per cent in the 2023 count, but 80 per cent had experienced homelessness for one year or more;

• 86 per cent of respondents have been in the community for more than year; and 69 per cent have been in Vernon for five years or more.

The 2023 report can be found here.

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Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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