Metro Vancouver count points to poor health among homeless population
Homeless people in the Metro Vancouver region continue to be in poor health, according to the final report on a count conducted this year.
“Over three-quarters of the homeless population have at least one condition or more,” Sandy Burpee of the Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness said in a phone interview.
“I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that life on the street isn’t good for your health,” he added. “But it reminds us that…the only way we’re going to get at this is reduce homelessness.”
The final report on the 2014 Metro Vancouver homeless count, which was conducted during a 24-hour period in March, shows a total of 2,777 homeless people in the region, including 957 who were unsheltered.
While the proportion of homeless people with two or more health conditions is down from the 2011 count, the report indicates that based on data from surveys since 2005, “it appears that the health of the homeless population in the Metro Vancouver region has been getting worse”.
This year, 614 people reported one health condition, while 801, or 45 percent of the homeless population, indicated they have two or more health conditions.
Burpee noted this year’s count also shows that aboriginal people continue to be disproportionately represented among the homeless population.
A total of 582 respondents identified as aboriginal in 2014, which translates to about one third of the homeless in the region.
“That I find very disturbing, and I believe that that’s where we at Metro Vancouver have to place our energies to reduce that population to closer reflect the aboriginal people’s representation in the overall population,” said Burpee.
The final numbers for the homeless count in the city of Vancouver show 536 unsheltered people and 1,267 staying in shelters.