VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – One of the key findings in a new report out this week on the homeless rate in Vancouver may surprise you. It turns out some people staying in shelters are actually employed.
In many cases, Jeremy Hunka with the Union Gospel Mission says, those people are having to work longer to save up just to get into the out of control housing and rental market in the city.
“The cost of housing is so high and the crunch of housing is so high that people are barely hanging on and even if they are working hard, even if they have a break and they have a good job they are still struggling.”
He describes it as a vicious cycle as the working poor put in long hours but can’t leave the shelter on stable ground.
“There is this stigma and stereotype around people who are on the streets. Often people look at them and may comment haphazardly that they’re lazy, might think wrongly they’re not working hard but really there are a lot of people in our shelter who are actively trying, actively working, doing whatever they can to turn their life around. It’s tough out there. And this [employment] stat in the Homeless Count really shows that people are having to work even harder than they used to, to stay off the streets,” he adds.
Some say higher wages would help.
Vancouver’s mayor says he’s willing to work with the province and the federal government to build housing, but no details on what that would look like. Gregor Robertson is also partially blaming the other two levels of government for not helping the city create more affordable housing.
The Homeless Count this week found there was a total of 1,841 people without a place to live in 2016. That number is up by about 100 people over the previous year, which is the highest rate over a decade.