Homelessness doubled ahead of Vancouver Olympics, report shows
Released this morning (December 4), the report—prepared by a University of British Columbia research team for the Vancouver Olympic organizing committee—notes that a 2008 homeless count found 1,576 homeless persons in Vancouver, up from the 628 homeless persons documented in 2002.
In Metro Vancouver, 2,660 homeless persons were counted in 2008, compared to the 1,121 homeless persons recorded in 2002.
Meanwhile, the homelessness rate—the number of homeless persons per 1,000 people—in Vancouver jumped from 1.09 to 2.56 between 2002 and 2008.
In Metro Vancouver, the homelessness rate increased from 0.53 to 1.17 between 2002 to 2008.
“In summary, both the absolute homeless count and the homelessness rate increased between 2002 and 2008, which suggests that the increase in homelessness was not due simply to an increase in population size,” the report states.
According to the report, while Vancouver’s homelessness rate increased by 134 percent between 2002 and 2008, the number of places in homeless shelters went up by 103 percent between 2002 and February 2009.
In Metro Vancouver, the homelessness rate increased by 121 percent while the number of places in shelters rose by 108 percent.
“All in all, the increase in places in homeless shelters for the past 6-7 years (supply) does not appear to meet the need (homelessness rate),” the report states. “This is based on the number of homeless per place in shelter, and the situation seems to be worsening.”
In Vancouver, 950 new affordable-housing and social-housing units were built between 2001 and 2008, the report notes.
The number of social-housing units rose by 3,490 between 2001 and 2006. (This figure includes both newly built and converted units.)
While the number of social-housing units per 1,000 people in Vancouver increased from 35.6 to 39.4 between 2001 and 2006, in Metro Vancouver it decreased from 22.3 to 21.8.
“To summarize, there has been an increase in the number of affordable housing and social housing units in Vancouver between 2001 and 2006,” the report states. “Despite this increase, additional data suggest that this increase has not yet met the need for such housing. In 2006, 3,577 households in the city of Vancouver were on waiting lists for social housing.”
A footnote in the report mentions that the Pivot Legal Society’s list of the number of social-housing units that have closed in Vancouver since the city won the right to host the Olympics stands at 1,448 units.
“Nongovernmental organizations like Pivot Legal Society suggest that the 2010 Games has led to an increase in homelessness, while at the same time also leading to a decrease in the number of units of affordable housing and social housing (through gentrification, cleaning out of neighbourhoods, etc),” the report states.
It continues: “However, a lack of available data does not allow for conclusions to be made with reasonable certainty about the situation. Specifically, we cannot discern whether the increase in homelessness is due to individuals in Vancouver/Metro Vancouver being displaced and becoming homeless, or due to an in-surge of homeless into Vancouver/Metro Vancouver from other parts of Canada (which in itself may or may not be caused by the upcoming Games).”
The report notes the originally planned “legacy” of 252 social-housing units in the Olympic Village is “in question as the result of recent events”, namely financing troubles.
Dated December 1, the Pre-Games Results Report of the Olympic Games Impact (OGI) Study for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games is the second report in a series of four reports mandated by the International Olympic Committee.
Overall, the report concludes the upcoming Olympics have had a "very slight positive" impact.
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