Alberni homeless count lower than expected

Port Alberni’s first official homeless count yielded 73 anonymous surveys from people without housing.

Port Alberni’s first official homeless count yielded 73 anonymous surveys from people without housing—fewer than organizers anticipated.

The count was conducted Nov. 22. Based on the federal government’s “point in time” methodology, the count was completed over a 17-hour period with 32 volunteers operating three survey stations and periodically walking several routes that are known as areas where homelessness is evident.

“The number was a bit lower than I was expecting,” said Terry Deakin, AVCSI project coordinator. “Primarily because we didn’t count the people who were in the shelter or transition houses.”

Although they counted fewer than 100 people, Deakin said the number is significant. “The unsheltered population is higher than what I anticipated,” she said.

The surveys included several questions designed to gather data regarding the “sheltered homeless”—those people living in shelters or transitional housing—and “unsheltered homeless”—those living in vehicles, public spaces, or other areas not fit for human habitation.

“A snapshot of our sheltered and unsheltered homeless does not provide the whole picture of homelessness in the Valley, but it does provide a platform from which the community can gain an understanding and pull together to address the needs of the homeless population,” Deakin said.

Some of the count’s highlights include:

• 75 per cent of those surveyed did not have a permanent residence to return to that night and four per cent were not sure, for a total of 59 individuals with no home; the other 19 per cent were in unstable apartments or sleeping on couches with family.

• There are a higher number of males, with 61 per cent of respondents being male and 31 per cent being female. Three respondents reported a total of 10 children under the age of 14 with them, and only two of those were in a shelter. The largest number in any age group was those between 20 and 35 years of age.

• Prior to the count, the AVCSI assumed Indigenous people were over-represented in the homeless population, and it was “alarming to learn that 71 per cent or 42 of the 59 homeless people indicated an Aboriginal heritage.”

• The majority of Port Alberni’s homeless are from here, with 31 per cent having moved to the Valley within the last year.

• Almost 70 per cent of those without a home, or 40 people, are in receipt of BC Benefits—42 per cent on regular income Assistance and 26 per cent on disability benefits; and 12 per cent (or seven people) panhandle or do odd jobs.

• The top reasons cited for becoming homeless are: conflict or physical/ emotional abuse; substance use/ abuse; eviction for failure to pay rent or other reasons; illness or medical issues; and job loss.

Survey results will be used to attract funding for housing projects, Deakin said.

“It was a good first start. I was really pleased with the support of volunteers in the community. It gives us a foundation on which to build; it gives  us some idea of the demographic of individuals who are homeless.”

She hopes it will be the impetus for a community group to come up with a project to help ease homelessness in the Alberni Valley.

“Our homeless population needs the community to work together to secure safe and stable homes, as well as services to address food security, addictions and substance abuse, mental and physical health issue, trauma counselling, employment services and legal advocacy,” she said.

Deakin hopes to repeat the homeless count in the spring, when the weather is nicer and people are more out and about. “It would be easier to get (people),” she said. “I would also like to include the hidden homeless, people couch surfing.”

 

editor@albernivalleynews.com

facebook.com/albernivalleynews

twitter.com/alberninews

 

 

Just Posted

Rain and high winds to hit Vancouver Island this afternoon

Thursday and Friday to see downpour of 20 to 50mm and high winds on Vancouver Island

Learn the basics of publishing at Port Alberni workshop

George Opacic of Rutherford Press will present keys to the professional side of publishing

Septic truck rolls over without a spill west of Port Alberni

Single vehicle crash took place on Klekhoot Crescent

Vancouver Island partners sign hull design contract for floating LNG project

Steelhead LNG and partner Huu-ay-aht First Nations say the agreement was signed in Barcelona

RAISE A READER 2018: Port Alberni popup book event a success

First Book Canada brought 16,000 books for distribution in B.C.-wide event

Sproat Lake hosts fall dragon boat regatta

Port Alberni’s Sproat Ness Dragons earn third place

First Nations block roads to stop the moose hunt in B.C.’s Interior

Chief Joe Alphonse confirmed Thursday they’ve deactivated the Raven Lake Road and the Mackin Creek Road just before the Island Lake turnoff

‘Like an Alfred Hitchcock movie’: Birds fall dead from the sky in B.C. city

Raptor expert says he’s never seen it happen anywhere in the Lower Mainland

Canada signs global pact to help rid world’s oceans of abandoned fishing gear

The federal Fisheries Minister says it’s a ‘critical issue’

GOP pushing forward for Kavanaugh, accuser wants ‘fairness’

Kavanaugh has denied al allegations of sexual misconduct

Tent city campers now allowed to stay in B.C. provincial park

Contrary to earlier reports, Ministry of Environment says there is no deadline for campers to leave Greater Victoria camp site

Former VP of Lululemon joins B.C. cannabis cultivation facility

Kerry Biggs will be the chief financial officer of True Leaf, in Lumby

Could cannabis help keep people in B.C. on treatment for opioid addiction?

People on opioid agonist treatment face lower risks of overdosing, BC Centre on Substance Use says

Around the BCHL – Trail Smoke Eater grad to captain NCAA Michigan Tech Huskies

Around the BCHL is a regular look at the BCHL and goings-on throughout the junior A world.

Most Read