Homeless counts show more supports, services needed to help vulnerable people
Data taken from the latest provincewide homeless counts shows increased supports and services are needed to prevent and address homelessness in communities in British Columbia.
The previous counts were partially conducted in 2020, with some being delayed until 2021 due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The counts show a significant impact of the pandemic and rising global inflation on the number of people experiencing homelessness throughout B.C.
“The results of these counts reinforce our belief that more needs to be done to help the most vulnerable members of our communities,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. “Because of global inflation cities across North America are seeing an increase in vulnerable populations. Through our new Belonging in BC homelessness plan, we’re creating the kinds of safe, secure homes and supports that are necessary to break the cycle of homelessness. While the plan was only introduced this past spring, we’ve started to implement it immediately in order to build a stronger B.C. for everyone by helping those struggling to stabilize their lives.”
The 2023 point-in-time homelessness counts captured information from 20 communities in B.C., through volunteer surveyors over a 24-hour period. The counts provide a snapshot of information about gender, age, Indigenous identity, racial identity, health conditions, service use and factors that contribute to homelessness.
Data from the 20 counted communities shows that all saw increases in the total number of people experiencing homelessness compared to the previous count from 2020-21.
According to these community counts, homelessness continues to affect British Columbians across a broad demographic of individuals, families, youth and seniors. These counts also show that Indigenous people and former children in care continue to be significantly over-represented. In all 20 communities, the majority of respondents had lived in the community where they were surveyed for at least a year.
Data from these provincially funded community counts will be combined with five federally funded and two independent counts to produce the full 2023 report on homeless counts, to be released later this winter. B.C. is the only province in Canada to fund provincial point-in-time counts that align with the federally funded counts, and the only province to produce a provincewide picture of homelessness.
The Province will use these results to further inform the development of supports and services implemented through Belonging in BC, the Province’s plan to prevent and reduce homelessness. As part of the Homes for People action plan released in April 2023, the Province is taking action on new initiatives aimed at helping prevent and reduce homelessness.
This includes funding for Homeless Encampment Action Response Teams (HEART) and the Homeless Encampment Action Response for Temporary Housing (HEARTH) initiative to provide rapid, co-ordinated, multidisciplinary responses when encampments arise. Both the HEART and HEARTH programs are part of Belonging in BC.
Belonging in B.C. is part of a $19-billion housing investment by the B.C. government. Since 2017, the Province has nearly 77,000 homes that have been delivered or are underway, including more than 7,000 supportive homes for people experiencing homelessness.
A full list of community profiles captured through the 2023 Point-in-Time counts can be found here: https://www.bchousing.org/research-centre/housing-data/homeless-counts
To learn about Belonging in BC, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2023HOUS0019-000436
To learn about the steps the Province is taking to tackle the housing crisis and deliver affordable homes for British Columbians, visit: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/housing/