Count finds 129 homeless in PG in April

There were at least 129 homeless people in Prince George on April 18 and another 79 spent the night previous in transitional housing, according to the Point-in-Time Homeless Count.

The count is part in a nationally coordinated effort, led by the Government of Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy, to measure homelessness in Canada. The Point-in-Time (PiT) Homeless Count was administered by the United Way of Northern BC, and conducted in partnership with the Community Partners Addressing Homelessness and community stakeholders.

Over a period of 14 hours volunteers and staff surveyed individuals in 11 agencies, including shelters, transitional housing facilities and drop-in centres. From 6-8:30 p.m. on that day, about 25 volunteers were involved surveying individuals in outdoor locations, such as sidewalks, parks and other public places. 

Also, to accurately get a number of those absolutely homeless, eight organizations, including emergency shelter, transitional housing and institutional facilities provided enumeration data.

The count offers a ‘snapshot’ of homelessness in Prince George on a particular date. It should not be taken as exact given that there are ‘hidden’ homeless who are not readily visible on the street, such as those staying short term with friends/relatives, people in medical care etc.

Of those surveyed:

  • 23 of 150 respondents (14 per cent) stayed outdoors the night prior
  • 61 of 150 respondents (44 per cent) stayed in emergency shelters the night prior
  • 79 per cent identified as being of indigenous descent
  • 50 per cent of 143 respondents were female, 46 per cent were male, three per cent identified as two-spirit and one per cent identified as transgender
  • Ages ranged from 15 to 78 years old
  • 48 per cent of respondents are between the ages of 25-44; 43 per cent ages 45-64; seven per cent under 25; two per cent older than 65.
  • Three per cent had served in the Canadian military or RCMP
  • Almost half of the respondents (45 per cent) had previously been in foster care and/or group homes.
  • 96 of the respondents are chronically homeless (homeless for six months or more of the past year)
  • 33 of the respondents are episodically homeless (homeless three or more times in the past year)
  • When asked the age they first became homeless, 34 per cent indicated under 18, while the median age was 24
  • Most respondents (96 per cent) indicate they do want to get into permanent housing.

Volunteers told told organizers that they found it was rewarding, commenting that they were surprised by the willingness of those to share their story. They found there are many different reasons why folks end up in this situation.

“The results will improve the understanding of the needs and circumstances of the people who are affected by homelessness in the community,” states a release from Community Partners Addressing Homelessness. “We gain key data on gender, age, Aboriginal identity, veteran status and more. A more thorough community report will be released in late June.”