How homelessness is costing Vancouver taxpayers at least $8.5 million per year

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      Homelessness is costing Vancouver taxpayers a lot of money.

      In dealing with street issues alone, the city is spending at least $8.5 million per year.

      The amount is mentioned by Celine Mauboules, director of homelessness services, in an information report to council.

      Mauboules wrote that the amount covers expenses related to “street urban issues responses, enforcement of the fire by-law, and providing support”.

      “The estimated $8.5 million does not represent a full costing of current and needed resources to try to meet the needs of individuals experiencing homelessness,” according to her report included in council agenda Wednesday (June 12).

      The amount per city department is broken down as follows:

      • $2.5 million for engineering, which does not include sanitation and street cleaning

      • $885,000 for the city’s homelessness services outreach team

      • $3.3 million for park board rangers, and maintenance and repairs of washrooms

      • $1.2 million for the Vancouver Police Department

      • $240,000 for the Vancouver Fire Rescue Services

      • $391,000 for the 2018-2019 staffing, food and programming expenses for warming centres.

      According to Mauboules, staff will present a more detailed and comprehensive costing sometime later.

      The city recorded its highest homeless count last year since 2005, with a total of 2,181 people.

      The count was made in March 2018, the last year of the then Vision Vancouver administration.

      “The economic and moral imperative to house Vancouver’s most vulnerable citizens is clear,” Mauboules concludes her report, “and urgent and concerted action must be taken by all levels of government and community partners to address this crisis.”