City of Vancouver homeless count surpasses 2,000 for first time and 39 percent are Indigenous

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      The number of homeless people in the City of Vancouver has for the first time passed 2,000.

      According to a staff presentation received by council today (October 4), in 2017, there are 1,601 people sleeping in shelters and 537 out on the street.

      The total number of 2,138 homeless people living in Vancouver is up from 1,847 counted in 2016, 1,746 the year before that, and way up from 1,576 counted nine years ago, in 2008.

      The figure for 2017 was determined via a city-wide count conducted on March 8. It’s likely lower than the actual number as it’s assumed some people sleeping on the streets, in their cars, and other places, were missed by the city employees and volunteers who conducted the tally.

      The presentation includes information on characteristics of the homeless that are not surprising but still shocking.

      Of homeless people in Vancouver, an astounding 39 percent identify as Indigenous.

      That compares to just two percent of the general population who describe themselves as First Nations, Inuit, or Metis.

      According to the results of a regional homeless count that was released last week (September 26), for Metro Vancouver, 34 percent of the homeless population is Indigenous.

      Moreover, the survey found that Indigenous people and especially Indigenous women were more likely to sleep on the street as opposed to in a shelter.

      City of Vancouver

      The report states that 59 percent of homeless people living in Vancouver have an addiction issue, 48 percent have a medical condition or illness, 44 percent said they have a mental-health issue, and 36 percent have a physical disability.

      Seventy-nine percent of the city’s 2,138 homeless people surveyed said they struggle with more than one of those conditions.

      The survey also found that more than 20 percent of people living in shelters and on the street describe themselves as employed. That’s a figure that holds true across Metro Vancouver.

      Toward the end of the staff presentation is a projected number for Vancouver’s homeless in 2018.

      It states that next year, the city’s homeless population is expected to grow further, to 2,200 people.