Survey indicates nearly one in four Metro Vancouver residents know someone who has recently been homeless

Nearly one in four Metro Vancouver residents say they know someone who is currently homeless or has been within the last five years, according to an Angus Reid survey released today (October 4) by the Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness.

The survey also identified homelessness as one of the major concerns in Metro Vancouver, with 53 percent of respondents indicating they see the issue as a “major problem” in the region.

Alice Sundberg, the co-chair of the regional steering committee, said the results point to increasing empathy among residents for the homeless.

“People in Metro Vancouver are not so likely to blame homeless people for their situation, and…you get the sense from their response that they understand that this is not a personal thing—this is related to poverty and the lack of affordable housing, as well as other social issues,” she told the Straight by phone.

“It’s rewarding to know that the public is aware of the underlying causes and are more empathetic towards homeless people.”

Almost all respondents agreed that homeless people should have access to services and information that they need, and be treated with dignity and respect. A majority also ranked more affordable housing with support services as a solution for homelessness in the region.

However, over 50 percent of respondents said housing in their community should be there only for the people who can afford it—a result that Sundberg called “disheartening”.

“We really hoped to be able to break down those barriers,” she said. “If people believe that we can achieve inclusive communities, well that means your community too.

“For me, I think that we still have some educating to do, having people recognize that…inclusive communities are the healthiest, most vital and vibrant communities that you can have, so really trying to get that across to people and address that kind of fear and exclusiveness, or NIMBYism.”

The survey also showed that just one in three residents are satisfied with the work that the region is doing to address homelessness, compared to a dissatisfaction rate of 55 percent. Respondents said they want to see all levels of government take a greater role in addressing homelessness, with the provincial government ranked the highest at 90 percent, and municipal governments and community organizations both ranked at 86 percent.

Patrick Stewart, the chair of the Aboriginal Homelessness Steering Committee, said he was surprised to see that survey respondents aren't as likely to demand action from the federal government.

According to Stewart, federal funding for homelessness programs in Metro Vancouver has “eroded” over the last 12 years. Funding levels have remained at $8 million annually for the region in that time.

“The costs of things go up, but our dollar stays the same, and we’re able to do less and less… and homelessness numbers have gone up from 12 years ago,” he said. “So they’re trying to feed more with less.”

Stewart added the survey released today “raises more questions than answers” for his steering committee. He noted that while 58 percent of respondents indicated they support providing more affordable housing with support services to address homelessness, 60 percent said aboriginal homelessness should be reduced by increasing community development supports, such as job training and employment opportunities.

Stewart believes the findings point to a need for more education on aboriginal issues.

“Why do people not understand that aboriginal people are so over-represented among the homeless population, and why does that not translate into an urgency to deal with aboriginal homelessness?” he asked.

Today’s survey findings were released to coincide with Homelessness Action Week, which takes place from October 7 to 13.

The survey was conducted online between September 10 and 12, 2012 by Angus Reid Public Opinion and included 1,006 randomly selected adults in the Lower Mainland. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 percent.

Comments (13) Add New Comment
2nd Nation
hey GS comment reviewer: your paper's policy sucks vis-a-vis approving comments not in line with the agenda you're promoting on a weekly basis. We get it: he GS hates the BC liberals and the BC NDP are the best thing since Che Guevara. But to disallow comments right-of-centre doesn't make your paper stronger, it weakens it by making it a place where only like-minded people chatter at one another. In these comments you can call former Premiere Campbell a facist worse than Hitler but you can't question left-wing ideology. Anyway, enough of my rant. I'm outta here. You'll be happy not to see any more posts from me; after all it just gets in the way of you preaching to one another.
Rating: +5
Charlie Smith
2nd Nation,

I don't know what you're talking about. Your comments are all over the site. If one has been deleted, it's because it was defamatory. I don't believe there are any published comments on this site comparing Gordon Campbell to Hitler. If they are, please let me know and I will remove those comments.

I believe we have a more freewheeling comment section than any newspaper in this region.

Charlie Smith
Georgia Straight
Rating: +2
But the City of Vancouver can spend $4 Million on a friggin Website upgrade.

BC Housing can waste $4 Million a year on the fucking WIFE of the CEO of BC Housing to Property "Manage" some buildings.

Theres more than enough money to House the Homeless with current Provincial and City Budgets.

But the Bureaucrats choose to waste it instead of looking after the most vulnerable and needy in our society.
Rating: -5
I do not live amoung the homeless. There is something that I do not understand, someone comes to Canada like from Asia. They have nothing when they arrive but I do not see them on the street, homeless. Whereas someone that was born in Canada maybe their family has been here for many generations, they have had much time to establish themselves, they are homeless. I think that drugs and alcohol play a big part in being homeless maybe also a string of bad luck also.
Rating: -4
Daddy Warbucks
Vision Vancouver spends more money on their communications department than they do on homelessness.
Rating: +4
Mike C
Lawrence, I agree with you. I've known immigrants and refugees from Asia, the Middle East, and the Caribbean, who came with nothing but the shirts on their backs. They were humbly willing to work the "lowest" jobs and live very frugally. My own family came to Canada that way nearly 40 years ago.

Aside from those unable to work, there appears to be a large number of our own citizens simply unwilling to work those "low" jobs, or are lazy perhaps because they feel they are too good for it. We can see everywhere in Vancouver that immigrants tend to fill those positions. Just see your local non-union grocer, fish packing plant, or Tim Hortons.

The attitude of arrogance and self-entitlement is what must change.
Rating: -2
Pat Crowe
It might be a good point to make that immigrants from many third world countries never had the option in their countries of three hot square meals a day and a bed to sleep on at night provided by the taxpayer. Not to mention free medical, dental and clothing as well. That sense of entitlement that we have cultivated for our lesser motivated citizens is an alien concept to third world immigrants whom hit the pavement running when they win the golden ticket of a life in Canada for them and theirs.
We really have created some very lazy and entitled slobs in our country with the constant left wing excuses and taxpayer funded handouts.
Rating: -6
Martin Dunphy
I find it disturbing to see that an article on the extent and impact of homelessness in Metro Vancouver brings out privileged commenters who label those unfortunates with such epithets as "very lazy and entitled slobs" and "arrogance and self-entitlement".
Rating: -2
If we call the unemployed, the homeless, and the addicted - poor people - lazy and useless and entitled enough times and with enough venom, perhaps it wards off our deepest fear that we could one day find ourselves amongst them. We need someone below us to feel better about ourselves. This knee-jerk resentment is born out of fear.
Rating: -1
Everyone needs a home
Even a prisoner has his cell, the streets are cold, empty and deadly as a 16 year old is grabbed off the streets to be made a sex slave and Pickton's victims where only yesterday. There is little you can count on except bullies. Where there is someone down on their luck there is a bully on the job to rob them of their dignity. Bullies, powerless people who suck the life out of others like an evil mania and who will bullies pick on when the homeless finds homes, women and children? Oh that is right women and children are also part of the homeless what gives?
Rating: +1
Who the hell are they asking?...I don't know any homeless people and I've known some pretty crazy people.
Rating: +2
there's so many immigrants on disability receiving over $1000 a month, they wear nice clothes and live in BC housing building in Downtown Vancouver..

if only people knew about all this ....we need to reform the welfare's too game-able

Rating: -5
I would call the Politicians Lazy, Entitled & Useless.

For the homeless I only have empathy even for the Drugged out addict who has lost the battle with Drugs.

It's cheaper to House & subsidize via Welfare the poor and homeless than to treat them in Hospitals for various health problems from living on the streets.

Also Welfare rates should be in line with E.I. the current rates do nothing to help people get off the streets.

At least with Welfare money it circulates in the local economy at local business etc.

Instead of Government giving it to Foreign Multinational Corporations as Corporate Welfare!

* Billions in PPP Power & Construction Projects

* Billions Owe-lympics

* $565 Million for a leaky Tarp Roof.

* $170+ Million for Fare Gates to Foreign Corporates including IBM

* HST Debacle.

etc etc...
Rating: +3
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