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Street homelessness declining in Vancouver

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The City of Vancouver says there are fewer people sleeping on our streets compared to this time last year and street homelessness has declined by 11 per cent.

“We saw a reduction of 33 individuals,” says Councillor Kerry Jang, who adds 273 people were counted over a 24-hour period in March.

“Certainly it is always an estimate.  But what we have been seeing over the last few years is a steady but slow reduction in homelessness.  We are using the same methodology as Metro Vancouver and all the other major cities so we are pretty confident the numbers are accurate.  There will always be people we have missed, and sometimes there may be people that get counted twice.”

Recent statistics suggest last month’s count was the equivalent to a 66 per cent decrease in street homelessness since 2008, which was the first year of low-barrier shelters when 811 individuals were counted.

Jang explains this is a step in the right direction but the city still needs a permanent funding commitment from the province for shelter.

“Affordable housing and homelessness is an issue not just for Vancouver, but for all of Metro and the Province.  I urge the provincial parties to outline their plan for preventing and ending homelessness.  In a province as wealthy and innovative as BC, there is no excuse for anyone to sleep outside at night,” says Mayor Gregor Robertson.

Since 2012, almost 200 units in two supportive housing sites have opened in Vancouver thanks to a partnership with BC Housing.  Its 2012-2021 Housing and Homelessness strategy needs an additional 290 units of supportive housing each year until 2021, and 500 new units of social housing.