The Burnaby Task Force On Homelessness conducted the 2014 Homeless Count in Burnaby on March 12, working collaboratively with Metro Vancouver and local tables across the Lower Mainland. Count numbers are understood to be the minimum number of people who are homeless on a given day in the Metro Vancouver region. Metro Vancouver reports that the Count underestimates the number of people who are actually homeless.
The 2014 Homeless Count was made possible through funding from: the Government of Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy, City of Vancouver, Vancouver Foundation, Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia, and Surrey Homelessness and Housing Society. Translink provided in-kind support.
In Burnaby there were 77 registered and trained volunteers for the 2014 Count. Ten of the volunteers were people with lived experience of homelessness. Sites for Count volunteers were established after extensive consultation with a variety of agencies and professionals. Volunteers covered 42 shifts and 55 identified sites over a 24 hour period.
Initial Metro Vancouver results report that “a total of 2,770 people in the Metro Vancouver region were identified as homeless on March 12. The sheltered homeless population included 1,613 people staying overnight in homeless shelters, transition houses, and safe houses and 200 people with no fixed address. The unsheltered homeless population included 957 people living outside or staying temporarily with others (couch surfing) and using homelessness services on the day of the count.
Initial Metro Vancouver results report that a total of 58 people in Burnaby were identified as homeless. 44 people were unsheltered. 13 were staying in emergency facilities and 1 person was of no fixed address. In Burnaby the 2014 initial results surveyed 20 people less than in 2011.
“Burnaby citizens living in extreme poverty struggle to find affordable places to rent in a municipality which has a market rental vacancy rate of 2%, high cost of rent, and old rental stock which is subject to fires and disrepair, and is often demolished and rebuilt as units for sale.” states Wanda Mulholland of the Burnaby Task Force On Homelessness.
The initial Burnaby Count results demonstrate that Outreach continues to work, building trusting supportive relationships to assist people in improving their lives.” states Wanda Mulholland of the Burnaby Task Force On Homelessness.
“The Progressive Housing Society Homeless Outreach Program assists between 30-40 new clients each month some of whom are absolutely homeless and others who are precariously housed. Outreach Workers allocate considerable time mediating with landlords and renters to support current rental arrangements to prevent absolute homelessness. The Homeless Outreach Program housed approximately 87 people between April 2012 and March 2013 in permanent housing utilizing established landlord contacts, Craigslist and other resources available to any potential renter. The competition for available housing is high and the vacancies are very limited” states Wanda Mulholland of the Burnaby Task Force On Homelessness.
Lookout Society operates the Extreme Weather Response in Burnaby which was open for 43 nights between October 2013 and April 2014 and utilized 325 bed nights” states Wanda Mulholland of the Burnaby Task Force On Homelessness.
Further results from the 2014 Homeless Count are expected in July 2014.