The Capital Regional District (CRD), in partnership with the Community Social Planning Council (CSPC) and the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, announced today the key findings of Everyone Counts: 2018 Greater Victoria Point-in-Time (PiT) Count. This is the second PiT Count and survey, the first taking place in 2016, with both initiatives supported by the Government of Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy.
The key learnings from the 2018 Count and survey are:
- Fewer people were unsheltered and sleeping outdoors on the night of March 15, 2018 – Volunteers found 158 unsheltered people (18% fewer than last count), despite there being more volunteers counting in more communities.
- New interventions to help people experiencing homelessness are in place – More people were surveyed and were found to be receiving assistance through temporary shelters and transitional housing, but many still need access to permanent homes.
- The voices of more people experiencing homelessness were heard this time around -Because volunteers were able to reach out to more youth as well as more people in various health and correction facilities, a total of 1,525 individuals were counted and more than 906 individuals participated in the survey.
- The number of youth experiencing “hidden homelessness” were better captured in the 2018 count – a Youth Magnet event allowed volunteers to reach 50 more youth. Research shows that youth are often the “hidden homeless” who couch surf by staying with friends.
- Youth, Indigenous people and seniors have unique experiences of homelessness – Survey findings showed that homelessness often starts at an early age and that there are culture and age-related barriers to accessing housing as well as services.
- 41% of respondents had their first experience of homelessness at 18 years of age or under.
- Nearly one-fifth of the people surveyed (19.4%) were aged 55+ and 17.4% were under 25 years of age.
- One-third (33%) of respondents identified as Indigenous, much higher than the proportion of Indigenous people among the broader population (4.7%).
Other specific findings from the survey indicate that:
- About two-thirds (67.6%) of respondents identified as male/man and 30.2% identified as female/woman.
- Many have been homeless for long periods of time – 78.8% had been homeless for more than 6 months over the past year.
- A significant majority were British Columbians – 83% had lived in Victoria for more than one year and 56.7% of the remaining individuals had lived somewhere in British Columbia prior to coming to Victoria.
- Most are not homeless by choice – 93.7% stated they wanted permanent housing.
- Most were homeless due to economic issues (loss of job, inadequate income) or the need for appropriate services (addictions, health and/or mental health).
The CRD contracted the CSPC to coordinate the survey and PiT Count. The CRD is also currently working in partnership with BC Housing, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and Island Health to deliver the Regional Housing First Program (RHFP), a $90 million partnership through which the CRD, BC Housing and CMHC will fund the development of 400 units of housing offered at social assistance shelter rates to address the needs of people experiencing chronic homelessness in the region.
The results of the PiT Count and survey will be used in conjunction with ongoing shelter-use data as well as information gleaned through planning with respect to the creation of a Coordinated Assessment and Access service and Homelessness Management Information System. These initiatives will improve service delivery as well as facilitate real time reporting of homelessness levels and achieve better outcomes for people experiencing homelessness in the region.
Homelessness in Sooke (extracted from the Report)
Greater Victoria spans a large area, and is comprised of urban, suburban, and rural areas. The District of Sooke is the westernmost municipality in the CRD.
There are limited services relating to experiences of homelessness currently available in Sooke. There are no emergency shelters and no transitional shelters or housing facilities. There is a domestic violence shelter, Sooke Transition House. Additionally, Sooke has a Crisis and Referral Centre, a Food Bank, and the Sooke Family Resource Society.
Additionally, there is little research available about the extent and nature of homelessness in Sooke. Therefore, it was very important to ensure the 2018 Greater Victoria Point-in-Time efforts involved the active inclusion and participation of Sooke.
The 2018 PiT Count in Sooke is an initial effort to identify the unique experiences of homelessness in a largely rural community such as Sooke. Because the information collected during this initial effort in quite limited, it is not necessarily representative of the more widespread experiences of homelessness in the region.
There were three survey locations established in Sooke: the Sooke Food Bank, the Sooke Crisis and Referral Centre, and the Sooke Legion. A total of 36 valid surveys were completed in Sooke, indicating that were at least 36 people experiencing homelessness in Sooke the night of March 15, 2018. This number is a minimum estimate, and is an undercount of the actual extent of homelessness in Sooke.
Of the 36 people surveyed in Sooke:
- 13 (36.1%) identified they were staying in a vehicle (car, van, RV, truck)
- 9 (25.0%) identified they were staying at someone else’s place
- 9 (25.0%) identified they were sleeping in an outdoor location (public space, makeshift shelter, tent, or shack, or another location unfit for human habitation)