For Immediate Release
Comox Valley Point-in-Time Homeless Count
Comox Valley, BC – The Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness (the Coalition), in partnership with United Way Central and Northern Vancouver Island, participated in a Point in Time (PiT) count on April 12th, 2016 using the National PiT Count methodology. In addition to the 24-hour count, surveys were conducted at fixed site locations April 13th – April 19th with the intention of gathering more information on those experiencing homelessness in the Comox Valley.
“United Way is committed to funding effective solutions to social issues in the Comox Valley and that requires good data. Homelessness is one of our top concerns and the PiT Count is one key way to better understand homelessness here,” said Signy Madden, Executive Director of United Way Central and Northern Vancouver Island. “Our donors fund 18 life-changing programs in the Comox Valley. United Way led the PiT Count in Nanaimo earlier in the winter and we were pleased to share best practices from that count and fund the Comox Valley count as well.”
A total of 157 homeless (70 absolute homeless and 87 hidden homeless) were surveyed. Because it is impossible to contact everyone who is homeless in a short period of time, the Coalition and the United Way recognize the PiT Count provides a snapshot of the needs of local homeless people and represents the minimum number of those who are homeless in the valley. The survey highlights below combine data from the 24 hour and the week-long collection.
- There are a significant number of women who are homeless in the Comox Valley. Of the people surveyed 57% were female and 42% were male.
“I became homeless with a child and was forced to place my child for adoption.” – Female, 45.
- Indigenous people are overrepresented among homeless populations. 66 (31%) indicated an Indigenous heritage whereas Census figures show only 5% of the region’s population is Indigenous.
- The majority (66%) of those surveyed came from the local area and had lived in the Comox Valley for more than a year. Most who moved to the valley in the last year came from other areas of Vancouver Island.
- Employed people are homeless in the Comox Valley. 13% of those surveyed were employed while 41% were on Income Assistance and 33% were on Disability Assistance. 8% had no income at all.
“I have difficulties making ends meet. There is just not enough full time hours of work.” – Male, 48.
- Most are not homeless by choice. Only 2 people said they did not want a home.
“My parents died and I was unable to afford the house on my own.” – Male, 46.
- People want permanent independent housing. 65% of respondents said they would like to live independently in a small house (under 350sq. feet) or a small apartment.
“The place I’m living in now has poor maintenance. It’s unsafe and dirty.” – Female, 66.
- People cited low incomes, high rents and lack of affordable, suitable and available housing as the major barriers to them being able to find housing.
“There’s a lack of jobs and I can’t afford to keep paying $1000 in rent right now” – Male, 29.
“I experienced age discrimination when I tried to find housing.” Female, 57.
- People become homeless for a variety of reasons: evictions and landlord/co-tenant conflict (30%), family conflict (19%), addiction and substance use (17%), illness (13%), Job loss (12%) domestic abuse (11%), unsafe housing (8%). Note: People surveyed could give more than one reason.
“Being unemployed is keeping me from finding a home.” – Male, 48.
- People who are homeless need services to help them address food security (food banks and soup kitchens), addictions and substance use issues, mental health issues, serious medical conditions, as well as trauma counseling and legal advocacy.
The Coalition is composed of 19 agency members working together as a collective to plan, coordinate, recommend and implement community responses to homelessness. As we continue to do counts on a bi-annual basis we can build strengthened capacity, further involve community partners and identify trends over subsequent years. For more information on the Coalition, the full PiT Count report and their five-year plan to end homelessness, visit www.cvhousing.ca.
For more information, contact:
Andrea Cupelli, Coordinator
Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness